Spotlight: Eugene Guccione

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In 1972 an outspoken engineer predicted with amazing accuracy the energy crisis that emerged in 1974-75, based on the past 35 years of government intervention in energy production. The same man had received widespread publicity in 1971 for his bold pronouncements that the air pollution crisis was a myth—pronouncements based solidly on facts indicating (a) that most pollutant levels are actually less than those of 40 years ago, and (b) that a high percentage of many pollutants (e.g. sulphur dioxide and hydrocarbons) is produced by natural sources. In 1974 and 1975 he produced hard-hitting editorials on such subjects as the desirability of strip mining, the danger (and source) of inflation, and the morality of profit. Clearly, Eugene Guccione is no ordinary engineer.

In January 1953, 17-year-old Eugene Guccione came to the United States from his native Italy with $5 in his pocket, and two weeks later began his first job: unloading produce trucks at a supermarket in White Plains, New York.

"My biggest shock during those early days occurred when I was given my first pay envelope. I was expecting $40 for my 40 hours of backbreaking work. Instead, I found only $34 in my pay envelope. My God, I've been robbed, I thought, as I rushed to see my boss. And so, I learned about taxation, which I thought was sheer theft—an opinion that has blossomed into an unshakeable conviction after getting systematically ripped off by Uncle Sam for the past 23 years."

Working during the day and studying at night, Gene Guccione received his baccalaureate in chemical engineering from New York University in 1960.

"While in college," he says, "I could understand such unimportant subjects as kinetics, thermodynamics, and nuclear physics; but I couldn't make much sense of most of the so-called 'humanities,' and I had a crushing inferiority complex when it came to economics. I thought only a genius could understand economics."

Today, Eugene Guccione is editor of Mining Engineering, the monthly journal of the Society of Mining Engineers of AIME (American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers); and Chairman of the Board of Mountain States Lime, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Mountain States Resources Corp., of which he is a director and vice president.

As proof of a spectacular recovery from his inferiority complex in regard to economics, Gene now serves as a director of the Committee for Monetary Research and Education, whose board includes John Exter, Henry Hazlitt, Donald Kemmerer, Hans Sennholz, and other well-known free market economists.

The crucial turning point in his learning, Gene says, occurred in early 1962. "It was triggered quite indirectly in a roundabout way. One night I saw on TV a stunning movie, The Fountainhead, which eventually led me to devour everything Ayn Rand had written, which, in turn, led me to the works of von Mises, von Hayek, Bastiat, Hazlitt, Rothbard, etc., after I took a course in economics that Alan Greenspan was giving at the now-defunct Nathaniel Branden Institute in New York."

Until January 1974, Gene Guccione was senior editor of Engineering & Mining Journal and, prior to that, associate editor of Chemical Engineering, both published by McGraw-Hill Inc., which he joined in 1960. He has authored and edited more than a thousand articles on all aspects of industrial, chemical and metallurgical operations. In 1962, for instance, he wrote "Stereospecific Polymerization" (McGraw-Hill, Chem. Eng.), in which he reported on the then-new techniques in high-polymer chemistry that were revolutionizing the world's plastics and rubber industries, and his report has been used as text in several graduate schools of chemical engineering. And in 1967, after spending two years of research, he wrote "Biomedical Engineering" (McGraw-Hill, Chem. Eng.), the first comprehensive report on this branch of engineering.

For the past six years, Gene has spoken on the subjects of pollution and the energy crisis at technical society meetings and in universities throughout the country, identifying the air pollution crisis as "a political, scientific, and financial fraud," and the energy crisis as "a made-in-Washington disaster." His nontechnical articles have appeared in several magazines (The Freeman, The Libertarian, Outlook, REASON) and newsdailies (The Arizona Republic, Deseret News, The Gainesville Times, The New York Times, The Phoenix Gazette, The Salt Lake Tribune, etc.). His views on these subjects have been aired in local and nationwide radio and TV programs.

Since early last year, Gene Guccione has been fighting against the Coal Surface Mining Bill "which would senselessly destroy the safest, most productive and most economical mining method that the coal industry has developed in the past 50 years," he states. "President Ford, much to his credit, vetoed the Surface Mining Bill twice. Yet, without much public notice, that twice-vetoed bill is now being sneaked into law anyway as an amendment to the Mineral Leasing Bill sponsored by Senators Lee Metcalf (D-Mont.), Henry Jackson (D-Wash.), and Floyd Haskell (D-Colo.). So, I may have lost a battle, but haven't yet lost the war."

While acknowledging that political activism is a very good way of spreading libertarian ideas, Gene is convinced that "the way to improve the world at large is through self-improvement. Your own personal happiness must come first. And my advice to budding libertarians is this:

"First, find out which laws are restricting your freedom of action in your private life, and fight like hell to have those laws repealed; then, if you have any strength or ambition left, find out which laws are castrating your business or industry and, using your own professional organization as launching pad, make an all-out reasoned attack against all the legislative and bureaucratic crap that comes out of Washington and from your state legislature. Finally, if you're sufficiently masochistic, by all means run for public office—and, if elected, don't do anything for me or anybody else."

Gene Guccione has no hobbies. "I enjoy all my four jobs and get paid for doing them to boot." What's the most difficult thing he ever learned?—"that my purpose in life is to enjoy it. It's taken me 40 years to learn that, and I want to spend the next 40 years cashing in on what I've learned."

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