The Poets of the EconomyEconomics & Law — By Joe Carter on December 4, 2007 at 1:01 am
“Money,” said Wallace Stevens, “is a kind of poetry.” As a Pulitizer Prize-winning poet and president of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, Stevens was familiar with both free verse and the free market. So if Stevens is correct, and money is a kind of poetry, then who are our epic monetary poets, the “poets of the economy?”
As the mid-term elections draw near we will hear countless debates over who is responsible for the flourishing (if a Republican politician) or stangating economiy. But while the President and Congress play a significant role in shaping our material fortunes, we often give politicians too much credit. The true leaders, the poets, of the economy are often found far from Washington, D.C.
I’ve made a list of the five individuals and the five organizations that I think have had the greatest impact on the economy since World War II. The completely arbitrary criteria I’ve laid out for the “poets” is that they must have been born after 1900 and cannot be a politician or elected official; for the companies/organizations that they must have been created after 1900 and that they are still in operation today.
My list includes the following:
1. Alan Greenspan (b. 1926) – Former chairman of the Federal Reserve
2. Bill Gates (b. 1955) – Founder of Microsoft
3. Sam Walton (b. 1918) – Founder of Wal-Mart
4. Tom Watson, Jr. – Leader of IBM
5. Ray Kroc (b. 1902) – Founder of McDonald’s Restaurants
1. Microsoft – developed software that had a significant impact on office productivity.
2. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc (1962) – transformed both retailing and corporate logistics
3. IBM (1924) – revolutionized mainframe computers and invented the personal computer
4. Bell Labs (1925) – invented the transistor, UNIX, C++ software, etc.
5. The American Legion (1919) — pushed for the introduction of the G.I. Bill
What names would you include and why?
[Note: I reserve the right to update my list if I find an answer that I like better.]