A Robber baron was not a man (or woman) who stole people’s money, which would be a robber or a con-man. A Robber Baron was really an extremely successful businessman that sold products or services that were in high demand by consumers. For example, Andrew Carnegie is considered to be a Robber Baron because in the late 1800’s he was the richest man to ever walk the planet because of his tremendous success in producing steel products.
If it wasn't for Carnegie's steel industry we wouldn't have skyscraper buildings. The myth is that Andrew could have never accumulated so much wealth without being dishonest or criminal. The truth is Andrew Carnegie made so much wealth because he came from a time period where capitalism and liberty were the U.S. economic and social policy. A time where there was no income tax, no social security tax, wage tax, real liberties, and individual responsibly.
Had Andrew Carnegie been born in a society where economic freedom was restricted by government laws and regulations, chances are he would have never been so successful with U.S. steel, nor would any other entrepreneur. You may think, well that’s great because then no one will have all that money or power to strong arm the market, consumers, or politicians. The government would have regulated and provided the market with steel at a fair price. If you think that, then you need yourself why does your cable bill cost so high or does California experience droughts every year? The answer, is because of government regulation stemming new competition, industry growth, and government mal-investment .
Let’s start with a simple example. In California to be a professional barber, you need to acquire a barber’s license and to acquire a license you need to enroll yourself in a barber school or community college that has a barber program. Everyone knows that the costs of going to a school isn't cheap, expect to pay anywhere around $2,000 - $20,000 for your certificate and license. This already eliminates most people, whether they’re skilled in cutting hair or not.
Not many people have the luxury or money to pay thousands of dollars to go to school and I haven’t even got into other associated costs such as, supplies, rental fees, business licenses and other fees. Now imagine this with cable companies, oil companies, car companies and etc, the costs are even higher, way too high for nearly every to even think about starting-up a company.
In another example as I said previously, California experiences droughts year after year and instead of trying to solve the issue the government rather take another route by spending tens of billions of dollars on building a bullet train that literally goes to the middle of nowhere. And the sad truth is once or if the train travels to and from S.F to L.A., tickets would probably cost more than an airline flight which will reach the destinations much faster. Yeah, what a waste of tax dollars.
In a time like today, not even Andrew Carnegie could pull off the accumulation of wealth as he did in the late 1800s. Today, Bill Gates is considered to be the most wealthiest man in the world, but even his wealth doesn't come close to Carnegie or John D. Rockerfeller of the late 1800s and early 1900s. So were the robber barons rich? Hell yes, but were they criminals and did they exploit people to gain their riches? No, not even close, if anything they provided a better standard of living for Americans and the world with affordable goods and services.