Frank Lautenberg

The Legacy of Frank Lautenberg

The late Sen. Frank Lautenberg's true legacy is one of entrepreneurship.


Others will remember Frank Lautenberg, the Democratic senator from New Jersey who died today at age 89, for his career in government. To me the more fascinating story is his career in business.

Because the company where Lautenberg spent the 30 years from 1952 to 1982 — longer than the time he spent in the Senate — is a classic example that manages to encapsulate both the genius and the risks of a certain kind of American business.

It was the success of that company — now Automatic Data Processing, Inc., or ADP — that made Lautenberg the fortune recently estimated at between $55 million and $116 million. That money is what made him a player in politics to begin with as a donor and as a self-financed candidate.

The growth of the company is a tribute to what is possible in America. The company was founded in 1949 as Automatic Payrolls, Inc. by brothers Henry and Joseph Taub, who worked, according to a 2011 New York Times obituary of Henry Taub, first in an office above a Paterson, N.J., ice cream parlor, then in a hotel basement. Lautenberg, the son of what the Times describes as Jewish immigrants from Poland and Russia joined as the fifth employee and recalled "lots of seven-day workweeks, lots of 12-hour days." The Times obituary of Taub describes him as cleaning his own office at night and delivering payrolls by bus. Now the company — Lautenberg eventually became the CEO — has 57,000 employees, $10 billion in annual revenues, and says it pays one in six American workers.

In addition to the old-fashioned value of hard work, the business grew by taking advantage of some newer phenomena — computers, outsourcing. The company history on the ADP corporate Web site reports that the firm leased its first computer from IBM in 1961. It had started using punch cards in 1957. These were big advances compared to using a printed table to calculate a payroll by hand. And the rise of outsourcing meant that as time went on, as the ADP web site puts it, more and more companies "no longer wanted ADP to provide services to their HR department…they wanted ADP to be their HR department."

There's a whole set of businesses that have succeeded by saving customers money or time — Walmart, Amazon. ADP is a business that succeeded by saving its customers, other businesses, money, because it was cheaper to have ADP run the payroll (or handle the other human resources administration) than to hire someone to do it in-house.

Finally, more recently, ADP has grown internationally, acquiring companies based in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The company says it serves clients in more than 125 countries and says it is the largest provider of human resources services in Europe, in Latin America, and in the Pacific Rim.

It all adds up to what sounds like a great capitalist success story — hard work, efficiency, globalization, mutually beneficial voluntary exchange, growth. What's the downside?

The downside is that the rise of ADP coincided, in America at least, with the rise of the payroll taxes and deductions — for income tax withholding, for Medicare, for Social Security, and for an employee's pretax contributions to retirement accounts and to employer-paid health-insurance. ADP makes managing these programs more simple for employers and employees, in much the same way that TurboTax makes filing your annual taxes easier. That simplification, though, is something of an illusion; by reducing the burden of compliance for businesses into a payroll processing fee, ADP allows employers just pay the fee and deal with ADP rather than confront directly the mind-boggling morass of paperwork that goes into complying with the various state and federal regulations and bureaucracies governing unemployment insurance, withholding taxes, and the like. Without all that complexity, there's not much of a business for ADP; businesses could pay their employees the same way they pay their rent, or the electric bill, simply by cutting a check (or sending an electronic payment).

So make no mistake about it, the firm that made Lautenberg his fortune and that in turn, in some sense, helped to elect him to the Senate, is an American entrepreneurial success story worth celebrating. But if America had a smaller and less intrusive government that imposed fewer and more simple taxes and regulations on employers and employees, the Taub brothers and Frank Lautenberg might have applied their formidable business skills to innovation in some other field than making it easier for job creators to comply with rules that are ridiculously complex. The risk is that more and more of America's entrepreneurial energy is devoted to helping businesses navigate around obstacles that don't really need to be there in the first place.

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  1. Crony capitalist becomes career politician.

    1. How is he a crony capitalist?

      Did he lobby for payroll complexity while at ADP?

      Or is that what you say about every Democrat? I notice the peanut gallery here is fond of that ruse.

      1. One who derives remuneration from the provision of a service for which there would be no market but for the state’s edicts.

        Sure, one could argue that some businesses in a purely free market state would have need for a payroll company. But you know that the primary drivers of the demand for payroll services are deductions related to the income tax, including, but not limited to, state income tax (unless yousa is a Nevada or Florida or New Hampshire resident), federal income tax, tax deferred retirement deductions and court ordered garnishments related to child and spousal support.

        Remember, it is the government which mandated the payroll tax deduction regime. Conceivably, you could fess up to your beloved leviathans on April 15 every year in a lump sum payment.

        No payroll deductions, no crony capitalist.

        1. You can discern the differences between garden variety libtardia and genuine anarcho-free enterprise-individualism.

          There are some Democrats who are not crony capitalists. I know some.

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            (Go to site and open “Home” for details)

        2. OK, so ALL employees and stockholders of ADP are crony capitalists.

          Now the net is so expansive the term is nearly meaningless.

          1. Notwithstanding all of the abuse you take on this here intertube, there are times that you actually make some good points.

            You would have to admit that I do not reflexively dismiss you and that you actually get a fair hearing from me.

            Then, you go and throw out some real stoopid.

            1. …”there are times that you actually make some good points.”….

              Blind squirrels…

        3. Conceivably, you could fess up to your beloved leviathans on April 15 every year in a lump sum payment.

          Nah. It will just move from mandatory to voluntary withholding. Look at companies that offer savings bond purchases through payroll deductions when people could just buy them directly. See also escrow accounts to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums.

        4. So the entire munitions business, in any country, is crony capitalism? All tax prep biz too?

          How about, say, drug development? Of course drugs would still be developed and tested without gov’t edicts, but the form the testing takes is heavily affected by those edicts. Same with development of pesticides.

          Is pharmacy crony capitalism too? It’s not as if doctors wouldn’t prescribe drugs otherwise, but prescription drug laws have given pharmacists probably much more of a job than they would’ve had otherwise.

          Is teaching crony capitalism, for the same reasons?

          These people may become cronies of gov’t, but it’s hard for me to accept their entire livelihood as forms of crony capitalism. Basically gov’t imposes certain requirements, and compliance is a job like any other, so people fill that job. Same with munitions. I don’t see filling a job for which there is a demand as crony capitalism. It or segments thereof would be crony capitalism under certain conditions that of course come into existence, but that doesn’t mean those entire fields are nothing but crony capitalism.

          1. So the entire munitions business, in any country, is crony capitalism? All tax prep biz too?

            Yes and 1000 times yes.

          2. Except, of course, there’s actually a market for drug development, munitions and pharmacy independent of government regulation. Libertymike’s point seems to be that ADP’s market largely owes to the existence of government regulation. Honestly, I think that puts them on the lighter side of the crony spectrum. But, you can rest assured that any such business, at least on an industrial scale, rests on its ability to maintain friendly relations with the regulators and legislators.

  2. “The risk is that more and more of America’s entrepreneurial energy is devoted to helping businesses navigate around obstacles that don’t really need to be there in the first place.”

    I am not seeing anything to be proud of with this guy Ira. Looking at his voting record he looks like a straight down the line democrat/statist. It makes me wonder how much he had to do with the placing of those obstacles that his company helps people navigate around.

    1. “It makes me wonder how much he had to do with the placing of those obstacles that his company helps people navigate around.”

      Exactly. He’s like the exterminator who brings his pet mouse.
      ‘Hey, you got a problem here! We can fix that!’

      1. Of course you two leap to wild unsubstantiated assumptions.

        1. Just look at his voting record shithead.

        2. Palin’s Buttplug| 6.3.13 @ 6:37PM |#
          “Of course you two leap to wild unsubstantiated assumptions.”

          Don’t you get dizzy from that?

      2. I don’t think anything so conscious. More like a general predisposition. If he had an inherent problem with regulatory complexity, he would have chosen a different business. And the fact that added complexity represented an opportunity, rather than a cost for him throughout his career only reinforced the notion in his head.


    Very depressing take down of the lunacy that is Obmaacare and the mendacity of its defenders.

    1. Who do you like tonight, Heat or Pacers?

      1. My heart says Pacers becasue I loath the Heat. My head says LaBron will have a transcendent game and drag Wade and Bosh’s sorry asses into the finals. But if the Heat win, it will be because James goes off like he did in Game 6 against the Celtics last year. I don’t see Wade or Bosh doing much.

        1. Top to bottom, the Pacers are a better, deeper team, you agree?

          Your analysis is the same as mine. If the Heat do win, Wade and Bosh had better step it up against the Spurs.

          How about Paul George? That kid is terrific!

        2. The NBA playoffs are still going and it’s not the finals yet?

          1. Yes. The NHL is going to end a couple of weeks after the NBA is done.

        3. I heard on the radio today that it’s fait accompli that LeBron goes back to the Cavs after next year. Him, Kyrie Irving, and the first pick this year? That team will make the current Heat look like the current Raptors.

      2. I’ll go the opposite of John. He sucks at predictions.

      3. The crooked NBA and its fixer refs will never allow Queen LeBum to lose this game. Most everyone wants to see the Heat in the finals because you either love them or despise them.

        1. The Pacers have the worst luck. Dicked over by the refs against the Bulls in the late 90s, go up against the Shaq-Kobe Lakers during the lone Finals appearance, and now going up against the (quite literal) Chosen One, who’s probably made Stern more money in the last three years than he ever did during MJ’s runs combined.

  4. He was a ‘fixer’.

  5. He was a gun-grabbing asswipe and I hope he spends eternity roasting in the hot place.

    1. Jews don’t believe in hell.

      1. I dont either, but I can wish cant I?

        1. Hell yeah, you can!

  6. “he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Brady Campaign”

    Fuck him.

    1. He is a total piece of shit. He gave us the Lautenberg Amendment that makes anyone who ever got into an altercation with their wife effectively a felon and unable to own a gun or continue to serve in the military.

      1. No surprise you get it wrong.

        And you’re a paralegal? Words have meaning, you know.

        1. Words have meaning, you know.

          You’re an asswipe….if you get my meaning.

        2. They certainly had meaning to a guy on my boat who couldn’t stand an armed watch because his wife beat him up. Cops pulled him out of his closet one night and took him to jail (SOP for WA domestic violence calls, apparently). Result: mutual restraining order and no guns for you.

            1. By one pronunciation, I used to be less than one.

      2. Don’t forget john that domestic violence is always wife beatings. In some states it’s any time the cops are called to an argument between two people cohabitating or are family.

        It could be two brothers fighting in the yard.

  7. Frank Lautenberg’s legacy cont.:

    The Lautenberg Amendment.

    If you are accused of domestic violence, you can be stripped of your right to keep and bear arms. Not convicted, merely accused.

    1. which bans access to firearms by people convicted of crimes of domestic violence. The act is often referred to as “the Lautenberg Amendment”

      Wiki says you are wrong.

      1. Wiki says you are wrong

        Pet peeve: “wiki” is a generic term, not shorthand for Wikipedia. Wikipedia is itself a wiki.

        Of course it appears that ship has long since sailed.

        1. “Of course it appears that ship has long since sailed.”
          But you can bandaid it.

      2. Wikipedia can suck my dick and you and Wikipedia can snowball each other when I get done.

        The act bans shipment, transport, ownership and use of guns or ammunition by individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence, or who are under a restraining (protection) order for domestic abuse in all 50 states.…..er_Gun_Ban

      3. Wikipedia is wrong, fuckface. The Lautenberg Amendment makes anybody subject to a DV restraining order a prohibited person, and DV restraining orders are issued pro forma, at one party’s request, without any fact-finding, at the initiation of divorce proceedings in many, many jurisdictions.

        Learn something about the subject before running your whore mouth.


        He sponsored the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, more commonly known as the “Lautenberg Amendment”.
        This piece of legislation prohibits individuals(including law enforcement officers and military service members), accused of a crime of domestic violence, from possessing a firearm.


          He sponsored the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban, more commonly known as the “Lautenberg Amendment”. This piece of legislation prohibits individuals (including law enforcement officers and military service members), accused of a crime of domestic violence, from possessing a firearm.

          1. Question: has anybody ever studied DV arrest rates for law enforcement officers before and after this went into effect?

  8. Was he an atheist who was into pot and porn? Dems teh reel questions.

    1. “I’m going to talk about the devil and why he loves anal sex. Anal sex releases into the world rare demonic entities and that even in the body could be conceived as the devil and that would be given birth to anally.”

      Uh, better out than in? Or is he just secretly a Red Priest?

      1. “There is a definite dark shadow when you are involved with this stuff. I did BDSM bondage porn.”

        1. When I got out of porn, I started having problems straight away. About two years later, I had surgery, it was horrible I had to have my sphincters almost stitched shut.”

          Warty would have been happy to stitch a man’s sphincter shut for free.

          Then STEVE SMITH would have taken that as a challenge.

    2. I’m going to talk about the devil and why he loves anal sex. Anal sex releases into the world rare demonic entities and that even in the body could be conceived as the devil and that would be given birth to anally

      So what he’s basically saying is that he converted to orthodox Shiite Islam?

      It is told [in the hadith] that Omar Ibn Al-Khattab had an anal disease, which could be cured only by semen. One should know that this is a well-known medical condition, which is also mentioned in sacred texts. Someone who, God forbid, has been penetrated in the anus ? a worm grows within him, due to the semen discharged in him… A disease develops in his anus, and as a result, he cannot calm down, unless… That’s right, it becomes like an addiction, and he cannot calm down unless he is penetrated again and again.

    3. Santorum is the devil?

  9. I now really want a water-resistant smartphone.

  10. In practice I mostly find MRAs vaguely annoying, but this is really stupid:

    There is, apparently, an ominous threat to female autonomy growing on Canadian campuses, and it masquerades under the guise of “men’s rights awareness.” These deceptive collectives purport to offer support and resources to men in the community, but, according to the Canadian Federation of Students, they actually promote “misogynist, hateful views,” and “justify sexual assault.” Well, then.

    The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), the union body representing over 500,000 students across the country, will consider this and other matters over the next week as part of its 63rd semi-annual nation general meeting. On the agenda roster is a motion to amend the “Sexual Assault and Violence Against Women on Campus” policy to account for the “increase in the presence” of men’s groups on Canadian campuses.

    Somebody (who is apparently not an asshole), pulled out some juicy bits from the resolution.

    1. Whereas these groups promote misogynist, hateful views towards women and ideologies that promote gender equity, challenges women’s bodily autonomy, justifies sexual assault, and decries feminism as violent

      Whereas bitches can’t manage some perfectly simple subject-verb agreement…

      1. In order to ensure that conversations remain productive and safe, a minimum of one mood-watcher who has undergone training in anti-oppression politics and facilitation frameworks will be appointed by the voting members at the beginning of plenaries.

        Thought police are gonna police.

        1. Do you think the mood-watchers are trained to notice when someone is about to flip out and start screaming, “Fuck off, slavers”?

    2. You know, I always eye rolled at Rush Limbaugh’s references to “feminazis”. The thing is, much as with Ayn Rand, the proglodytes just seem bound and determined to live up to the cardboard cutouts that he depicts.

  11. Give us sixty grand if you want to see your precious Xanga alive again.

  12. I wish they’d install a dance floor and a urinal on Frank Lautenbeg’s grave. Good riddance. Too bad it took so fucking long for that anti-liberty PoS to die.

    1. In the words (almost his final words) of Blofeld, “really [SIV], have you no respect for the dead?”

      1. Do you want to get sued by Kevin McClory’s corpse?

    2. I have often considered taking a urination tour of politicians graves after retired. I’ll piss on Teddy, and Frankie, maybe Bwaney can accommodate me my dropping dead before I leave.

      If you have any suggestions please send them along!

      1. Abe, an earlier Teddy, Woodrow, Franklin, Harry, Lyndon, Dick and Gerald to name a few.

        1. WTF did Ford do?

        2. All good!

          fish scribbling furiously……..

        3. Give Woodrow a few drops for me, young feller!

    3. SIV| 6.3.13 @ 6:58PM |#
      “I wish they’d install a dance floor and a urinal on Frank Lautenbeg’s grave”

      Can’t do it. The cemetery doesn’t want crowds.

      1. The cemetery doesn’t want crowds.

        Why ……we’ll put up a velvet rope!

        1. Charge an entrance fee. The money raised will be sent to the NRA, SAF, and maybe a couple of other civil rights foundations (do they have a civil rights group dedicated to alcohol?).

  13. He’s also responsible for the 21 drinking age. Fuck off and burn in hell slaver!

    1. How about the 21 handgun age? Fuck that.

  14. OT:
    Guy with bucks thumbs nose at CA agency, holds wedding where he pleases, pays fine, but CAN’T AFFORD A DAMN SUIT THAT FITS!…..573108.php

    1. He thumbs his nose at your standards of dress!

      1. He also pays a lot to have the buttons sewn back on.

  15. Disgusting article. I’ll dance on this prick’s grave if I ever find myself near it. He voted in favor of the arrest and detention of US citizens by the military.


    Ira, you’re a tool.

  16. ADP has always charged exorbitant fees for a poor service and a very over-structured and always obsolete payroll program. As a client, you do all the work and they get paid.

    ADP was a huge success before small businesses found Quickbooks. Now the ADP salespeople have to find the computer illiterates and now that is getting to be tough sledding.

    1. gad-fly| 6.3.13 @ 8:57PM |#
      “ADP has always charged exorbitant fees for a poor service and a very over-structured and always obsolete payroll program. As a client, you do all the work and they get paid.”

      They’re not the first to identify a problem, develop a fix and then get overtaken by events.
      Ampex thought they were a recording tape company rather than a data-storage company. Ooops!

  17. Dude I like where that is going .Wow.

  18. Ira, he’s dead, you can get off your knees now.

  19. No one disputes that the man started off life as a successful businessman and that’s great for him.

    Then he went on to politics and did his damnedest – and often succeeded – in fucking with the lives and freedoms of everyone else.

    And, lest we not forget (I lived in Jersey at the time), in the late 90’s, he retired from the Senate, his “successor” got caught in a scandal a few weeks before the election, the Reps were poised to take the Senate seat, and the Dems of NJ were allowed to substitute Lautenberg back on the ticket right before the election. And we as a nation got back that asswipe nanny-stater for the rest of his life.

    A tribute article? Really? Lousenbenberg should be skewered, not praised. His business success, no matter how genuine, should not and will not excuse the sheer damage to liberty and freedom he caused. Fuck him. I hope his hell is a smoke-filled room.

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