Saturday, August 4, 2012

Vacation and Those Who Did Build That

Mrs. Daddy and I took a little vacation to San Luis Obispo, staying at the Madonna Inn and visiting the Hearst Castle and Paso Robles Wine Country. If I get a little time tomorrow, I will post some highlights on my other blog. But I was struck by the extent to which we were surrounded on our trip by people who built things, with great passion, energy and vision.

William Randolph Hearst was the classic 1%er. His castle is certainly a monument to his ego. But it is also a singular achievement, a symbol of the business empire he built. Our tour guide on the wine country tour remarked how Hearst brought thousands of jobs to San Luis Obispo county through the construction and maintenance of his castle. Further, his work continues to keep people employed to this day. He built little of his empire nor the mansion with government help, yet there it stands, now the property of the state of California, but maintained by the fees and revenue generated from visitors.

In a similar vain, the original owner and visionary who built the Madonna Inn, Alex Madonna, also left a legacy in the hands of the government. According to our guide, Madonna was the prime contractor who built a key stretch of U.S Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo county (I can't find confirmation of this fact). But when Obama says, you didn't build that, I note that seldom does government build that either. They turn to the businesses and entrepreneurs in the private sector to build that, whatever that is that needs building. Alex Madonna also created a unique motif, re-using the rocks in region to build the Madonna Inn, it even has a rock waterfall urinal in the men's room of the downstairs wine and gift shop.

Finally, all of the wineries we visited were owned by families, often a husband and wife team. These owners put toil and love into an enterprise that takes years to pay off. They invite us into their business and share their knowledge and love of wine in their tasting rooms. I found the whole experience very moving, because we could see the effort it takes to get the wine just right and to be able to sell it to us at affordable prices. They deserve our praise, not a scolding from our President for taking too much credit for themselves.

Which leads me to an editorial from Virginia Postrel (H/T Left Coast Rebel). She summarizes the work of Deirdre Mcloskey, who argues that it is the celebration of entrepreneurship that is essential to economic growth, not merely or even largely capital formation.
McCloskey’s book is not only a useful survey of how scholars answer the biggest question in economics: What causes growth? It is also a timely reminder that prosperity depends on more than effort or resources or infrastructure or good laws. Attitudes matter, too. You don’t build a wealthy society by deriding bourgeois enterprise -- or the people who take pride in it.


  1. Great post to go with an awesome picture of you both! I think the SLOBs need to do a road trip to study some of this capitalism you uncovered. :)

  2. Great photo, glad you had a good time.

  3. B-Dadddy, lost to time is the job that was done in re-building the L.A. infrastructure after the Northridge quake back in '94. L.A. pretty much put all its eggs in one basket turning to Myers construction (sp?) a private firm as the sole prime. The contract was heavily incentivized and penalized depending upon performance. Myers brought the whole job in under budget and 100 days ahead of the deadline. I forget all of the deets, but those are the basics that I feel comfortable posting here.


  4. Mut, Dawg, Dean,
    Thanks for your comments. Wine country was great, and so is Hwy 101. We had a great time and I only drunk blogged once, since deleted.