Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Mucking About

 

A recent podcast from “The Mark Davis Show” quoted one of the founders of the Dallas Cowboys:

“Money is like manure. If you spread it around it does a lot of good, but if you pile it up in one place it stinks like hell.” — Clint Murchison, Jr.,
(As quoted in: Time, Volume 124, 1984, p. 96)

Murchison, who made his money in oil and real estate, was summing up how he had conducted his business affairs for decades. He was one of the founders of the Dallas Cowboys, and involved in the construction of the original Cowboys stadium. A recent Star-Telegram column, by Mac Engel, reported and advocated an effort to have Murchison inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

Murchison had previously tried to buy NFL franchises before he was granted an expansion team and created the Dallas Cowboys in 1960; he wanted something beyond what a pro football team had become in the 1960s….

Before Texas Stadium, watching a sporting event was basically akin to the Cotton Bowl, where the Cowboys had previously played their home games.

At Texas Stadium, Murchison introduced luxury, suites, fan comfort, amenities to sports in the U.S. that had never been previously experienced. Any time you walk into a pro sports stadium today, you can see Murchison’s influence.

Murchison, it turns out, did not create this barnyard phrase. The quote, in its original form, traces back to Frances Bacon in 1625, when he attributed various sayings to a possibly fictional character:

Mr. Bettenham, reader of Grays-Inn, used to say, that riches were like muck; when it lay upon an heap, it gave but a stench, and ill odour; but when it was spread upon the ground, then it was cause of much fruit.

Bacon’s concerns were not just about private action, but also state policy. As Adam Smith would later advocate for the superiority of a free market over merchantilism, so Bacon was concerned about state policies that had the effect of reducing the availability of money and land in the national economy. If we understand money to be a representation of wealth, not wealth itself, then we might extend the idea.

The Framers of the U.S. Constitution were keen to both promote communication, sharing of ideas, and to provide protection for a useful period to original, useful, ideas. Consider the inclusion of two grants of enumerated powers to Congress:

Article I, Section. 8.
The Congress shall have Power…

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Part of the complaint against the lords of Silicon Valley is about concentration, a great piling up, of control over expression of ideas and art. The attendant public stench may be analogous to the piling up of properties under government grants of privilege in Britain, or the great consolidation moves by early American industrialists, which invited the creation of anti-trust law.

George Gilder, in his 2018 book Life After Google, claims that blockchain and related ideas will lead to a great decentralization over the next decade. The subtitle is “The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy.” I suggest Whiskey Politics #188 as a good introduction. Perhaps we will see a great breaking up of the great enclosures of digital social space and economy. Perhaps we are witnessing the last grasping moves of the information economy’s great barons. If so, then we may be on the verge of another great increase of wealth, induced by a radical decentralization of control. An Army of Davids might finally be freed to take up pitchforks and spread money and ideas around where they judge it will do the most good.

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There are 13 comments.

  1. Arahant Member

    Spreading manure or spreading money, it can be a whole passel of work.

    • #1
    • June 17, 2019, at 6:38 PM PST
    • 1 like
  2. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Spreading manure or spreading money, it can be a whole passel of work.

    And we resent the government ordering us to fork it over.

    • #2
    • June 17, 2019, at 6:59 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  3. Vectorman Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown: At Texas Stadium, Murchison introduced luxury, suites, fan comfort, amenities to sports in the U.S. that had never been previously experienced. Any time you walk into a pro sports stadium today, you can see Murchison’s influence.

    Another interesting aspect of Texas Stadium (now torn down) was the famous “Hole in the Roof.”

    I had tickets to Roger Staubach’s last regular season game of the 1979 season between Dallas and the rival Redskins. Roger led a come from behind win on a very cold and windy day. Our seats were near the top, with a large slot between the wall and the start of the roof. The roof hole probably made the wind even worse!


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    • #3
    • June 17, 2019, at 7:25 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. Doctor Robert Member

    Mr Murchison did not make up that line.

    It is from the musical show Hello Dolly (if not earlier).

    In the final scene, Dolly Gallagher Levi, the leading lady, is speaking to Horace van der Gelder, the leading man (a cheapskate millionaire whom she is wooing for marriage),

    “Horace van der Gelder, I like to say that money…is like manure. If you pile it up it stinks. But if you spread it around, it helps little things grow”.

    Or some such. I can’t remember exactly, having last played the show in 1981.

    My favorite line from the show comes a little earlier in the scene, as they dine at a fancy restaurant. (She salts her beets)”You salt your beets, Horace van der Gelder, and (salting his beets) I’ll salt mine.”

    • #4
    • June 18, 2019, at 7:17 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Mr Murchison did not make up that line.

    It is from the musical show Hello Dolly (if not earlier).

    In the final scene, Dolly Gallagher Levi, the leading lady, is speaking to Horace van der Gelder, the leading man (a cheapskate millionaire whom she is wooing for marriage),

    “Money is like manure. If you pile it up it stinks. But if you spread it around, it helps little things grow”.

    Or some such. I can’t remember exactly, having last played the show in 1981.

    Yup. 1625ish.

    • #5
    • June 18, 2019, at 7:23 PM PST
    • Like
  6. Mim526 Member

    Clifford A. Brown:

    Part of the complaint against the lords of Silicon Valley is about concentration, a great piling up, of control over expression of ideas and art. The attendant public stench may be analogous to the piling up of properties under government grants of privilege in Britain, or the great consolidation moves by early American industrialists, which invited the creation of anti-trust law.

    George Gilder, in his 2018 book Life After Google, claims that blockchain and related ideas will lead to a great decentralization over the next decade.

    Well said.

    I have concerns about tracing transactions with ideas like blockchain, and I do not like the idea of a nation’s currency being replaced by a global form of monetary exchange. Control of the money tends to influence far more than just the money.

    • #6
    • June 19, 2019, at 8:11 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  7. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Spreading manure or spreading money, it can be a whole passel of work.

    And we resent the government ordering us to fork it over.

    If they were happy with a couple shovel loads of manure (I understand that’s what Truman called it) there wouldn’t be near as much resentment.

    Not only that, but the source of the stench would be obvious.

    • #7
    • June 20, 2019, at 3:12 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Spreading manure or spreading money, it can be a whole passel of work.

    And we resent the government ordering us to fork it over.

    If they were happy with a couple shovel loads of manure (I understand that’s what Truman called it) there wouldn’t be near as much resentment.

    Not only that, but the source of the stench would be obvious.

    Deep wisdom.

    • #8
    • June 20, 2019, at 3:28 PM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Murchison couldn’t find Texas food he liked when he’d go to New York for NFL meetings and other business, so he opened his own restaurant there on East 49th Street, named The Dallas Cowboy, in the late 1960s. This apparently irked Pete Rozelle, because the league wasn’t getting a cut of Clint’s restaurant, since they thought he was capitalizing on the team’s name … even though it was his team’s name. Anyway, they made him shorten the name to just “The Cowboy”, but if you went inside, the walls were still covered in Dallas Cowboys pictures going back to the Eddie LeBaron QB days (which, since the team only started in 1960, meant there were a lot of current players also on the walls of the place).

    If you wanted chili or chicken fried steak in midtown Manhattan, it was pretty much your default place to go. Murchison ought to be in the NFL Hall of Fame just for that (and it’s hard to believe he’s not there and Jerry Jones is, since it was Murchison who created the conditions for the Dallas Cowboys to become the Dallas Cowboys that Jones could later market and exploit when he bought the team).

    • #9
    • June 20, 2019, at 8:08 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Murchison couldn’t find Texas food he liked when he’d go to New York for NFL meetings and other business, so he opened his own restaurant there on East 49th Street, named The Dallas Cowboy, in the late 1960s. This apparently irked Pete Rozelle, because the league wasn’t getting a cut of Clint’s restaurant, since they thought he was capitalizing on the team’s name … even though it was his team’s name. Anyway, they made him shorten the name to just “The Cowboy”, but if you went inside, the walls were still covered in Dallas Cowboys pictures going back to the Eddie LeBaron QB days (which, since the team only started in 1960, meant there were a lot of current players also on the walls of the place).

    If you wanted chili or chicken fried steak in midtown Manhattan, it was pretty much your default place to go. Murchison ought to be in the NFL Hall of Fame just for that (and it’s hard to believe he’s not there and Jerry Jones is, since it was Murchison who created the conditions for the Dallas Cowboys to become the Dallas Cowboys that Jones could later market and exploit when he bought the team).

    Great rest of the story!

    • #10
    • June 20, 2019, at 8:22 PM PST
    • Like
  11. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):

    Murchison couldn’t find Texas food he liked when he’d go to New York for NFL meetings and other business, so he opened his own restaurant there on East 49th Street, named The Dallas Cowboy, in the late 1960s. This apparently irked Pete Rozelle, because the league wasn’t getting a cut of Clint’s restaurant, since they thought he was capitalizing on the team’s name … even though it was his team’s name. Anyway, they made him shorten the name to just “The Cowboy”, but if you went inside, the walls were still covered in Dallas Cowboys pictures going back to the Eddie LeBaron QB days (which, since the team only started in 1960, meant there were a lot of current players also on the walls of the place).

    If you wanted chili or chicken fried steak in midtown Manhattan, it was pretty much your default place to go. Murchison ought to be in the NFL Hall of Fame just for that (and it’s hard to believe he’s not there and Jerry Jones is, since it was Murchison who created the conditions for the Dallas Cowboys to become the Dallas Cowboys that Jones could later market and exploit when he bought the team).

    Great rest of the story!

    Dad was a Cowboys fan, so we went there a number of times for dinner. Being a New York Football Giants fan (and a few years later later, New York Football Giants season ticket holder with the current lead NFL producer for Fox Sports) I felt like I was in enemy territory, even if the chicken fried steak was really good.

    • #11
    • June 20, 2019, at 8:51 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Vectorman Thatcher

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    Being a New York Football Giants fan (and a few years later later, New York Football Giants season ticket holder with the current lead NFL producer for Fox Sports) I felt like I was in enemy territory, even if the chicken fried steak was really good.

    The Giants play over in New Jersey, so NYC can only root for the Jets. (J/K)

    • #12
    • June 21, 2019, at 9:34 AM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Vectorman (View Comment):

    Jon1979 (View Comment):
    Being a New York Football Giants fan (and a few years later later, New York Football Giants season ticket holder with the current lead NFL producer for Fox Sports) I felt like I was in enemy territory, even if the chicken fried steak was really good.

    The Giants play over in New Jersey, so NYC can only root for the Jets. (J/K)

    Jets have played in Jersey since the 1983 season, IIRC. The only New York-based team left is the Bills (who haven’t played in Buffalo in almost half a century, but have been south of town on Orchard Park).

    • #13
    • June 21, 2019, at 11:35 AM PST
    • 2 likes