Most of us were taught in school that laissez-faire capitalism was tried in the 1800s–and failed. Without government regulations and antitrust law, we learned, businessmen used “anti-competitive” tactics to become giant, unchallengeable monopolies. The most famous monopoly was John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust, which supposedly used its “market power” to squelch innovative competitors and jack up consumer prices at will. But did this really happen? Did laissez-faire really fail? No, argues Alex Epstein. In this talk Epstein will tell the real story of Rockefeller’s rise to market dominance–and explain how his success was the result not of shady practices, but of his company’s incredible ability to bring the cheapest, best oil to millions of Americans. Epstein will argue that the case of Standard Oil raises many questions about Americans’ commonly held beliefs on monopolies, competition, and government. Is antitrust law really necessary to protect us against monopolies and promote competition? Was the government right to punish Microsoft for “monopolization,” and is it justified in investigating Google and Yahoo for “anti-competitive” behavior? Epstein will address these questions and more in his 45-minute talk, followed by a question-and-answer period.

What: a talk in defense of laissez-faire capitalism that will tell the real story of Rockefeller’s rise to market dominance in the oil industry

Who: Alex Epstein, fellow at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, a division of the Ayn Rand Institute

Where: Smith Building Room 105. Georgia Tech Campus, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332

When: Monday, September 29, 2008, at 8 pm

Alex Epstein has a BA in Philosophy from Duke University and is an analyst focusing on business issues at the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. He was the editor and publisher of The Duke Review for two years. He is a contributing writer for The Objective Standard, a quarterly journal of culture and politics. His Op-Eds have appeared in such publications as the Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Arizona Republic, Canada’s National Post, Indianapolis Star, Orange County Register, Tampa Tribune, and the Washington Times. Mr. Epstein has been interviewed on numerous nationally syndicated radio programs on business topics such as income inequality, media and internet regulation, oil industry profits, social security and the FDA.

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