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Capitalism at Work

Business, Government and Energy
By Robert L. Bradley Jr.
Series: Political Capitalism Trilogy
Copyright: 2009   |   Status: Published
ISBN: 9780976404170  |  Hardcover  |  2.25 lbs
502 pages with 70 halftones pages
Price: $39.95 USD
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One Line Description
Provides a penetrating and multidisciplinary explanation of the demise of Enron and breaks new ground regarding public policies toward business.

1. Ayn Rand readers
2. Political scientists
3. Energy policy makers and specialists
4. Business ethicists and business leaders
5. Political and business commentators.
6. Public, research and special libraries

Read the Intro Chapter (PDF)
View the Ayn Rand Appendix
View an interview with author Robert L. Bradley, Jr. at

Capitalism took the blame for Enron although the company was anything but a free-market enterprise, and company architect was hardly a principled capitalist. On the contrary, Enron was a politically dependent company and, in the end, a grotesque outcome of America's mixed economy.

That is the central finding of Robert L. Bradley's Capitalism at Work: The blame for Enron rests squarely with "political capitalism"--a system in which business firms routinely obtain government intervention to further their own interests at the expense of consumers, taxpayers, and competitors. Although Ken Lay professed allegiance to free markets, he was in fact a consumate politician. Only by manipulating the levers of government was he able to transform Enron from a $3 billion natural gas company to a $100 billion chimera, one that went in a matter of months from seventh place on Fortune's 500 list to bankruptcy.

But Capitalism at Work goes beyond unmasking Enron's sophisticated foray into political capitalism. Employing the timeless insights of Adam Smith, Samuel Smiles, and Ayn Rand, among others, Bradley shows how fashionable anti-capitalist doctrines set the stage for the ultimate business debacle. Those errant theories, like Enron itself, elevated form over substance, ignored legitimate criticism, and bypassed midcourse correction. Political capitalism was thus more than the handiwork of profit-hungry businessmen and power-hungry politicians. It was a legacy of failed scholarship.

Capitalism at Work's penetrating, multidisciplinary explanation of the demise of Enron breaks new ground regarding b

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Recommended for public and academic library collections, lower-division undergraduate and up.

Bradley's book is especially timely and it raises fundamental questions about the business of competition. Given the author's documentation a wide audience might be served by reading Capitalism at Work.
William A. Mogel, Energy Law Journal

Businesses succeed by creating real, long-term value for their owners, customers, and society. On the other hand, as Capitalism at Work shows, companies that resort to political profiteering and public grandstanding can fail spectacularly. Bradley's defense of economic freedom provides new insight for business ethics, business best practices, and public policy.
Charles Koch, Chairman of Koch Industries

Fascinating, comprehensive ... far surpassing my own history of political capitalism done in the 1960s.
Gabriel Kolko, historian and author

He (Bradley) has succeeded in his effort to show that Enron was guided by faulty premises well-refuted in the economics literature. A definitive study.
Richard L. Gordon, Cato Journal

View the Ayn Rand Appendix
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Author / Editor Details
Robert L. Bradley, Jr., a 16-year Enron employee and Ken Lay confidant, is a noted free-market scholar and public-policy entrepreneur. The founder and chairman of the Institute for Energy Research, Bradley is the author of numerous books and essays on the

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Table of 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. 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: Early Political Economists, Arthur Bentley, 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.

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.

Source Notes



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BUS008000: Business Ethics
BUS0690030: Economics/Theory
POL042020: Political Ideologies/Conservatism & Liberalism

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Author/Editor Details
Table of Contents
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Sample Chapter
View the Ayn Rand Appendix
View our other books in this trilogy!
Book 2 | Book 3