NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- About 150 years ago a wholesale grocer from Cleveland took a business trip. You could now drive the distance in just a few hours, and the grocer was determined to see the market circus. He was appalled by what he found.
It was the first oil boom. The government needed kerosene for lamps and paraffin for bullets to bring southern states back into the Union. The entrepreneurs of Oil City, Pa., and the surrounding area were supplying it by pouring oil into whiskey barrels, piling them high onto horse-drawn carts, and then whipping those horses in a frantic effort to reach tiny refineries that could turn the oil into something useful.
It was filthy, it was dangerous, and the grocer saw it was incredibly inefficient. As you may have guessed by now, the grocer's name was John D. Rockefeller, he was a Union man and an abolitionist. His trip taught him that pure capitalism -- red in tooth and claw -- was not going to eliminate that waste.
So, as biographer Ron Chernow wrote in
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