Good old Henry Ford

Still awfully cold here in NW Ohio.  But the sun is shining.  It’s a good day to sit around and think.

For some reason I started thinking about Henry Ford.  Farm boy with Irish roots. Pioneer industrialist.  Builder of some of the largest manufacturing complexes ever conceived.  Inventor, philanthropist, the list goes on and on.

But the thing I remember most about Henry Ford is that he paid his workers more than his competitors paid theirs, more than just “a living wage”.  Henry Ford was, above all else, a “long term” thinker.  He realized that well paid workers could be a huge, hitherto untapped, customer base.  Get a job at Ford Motor Company.  Buy a Model T.  A new middle class was born and America was “off to the races.”

Sometimes I wonder if anyone in American business or government still thinks that way?


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7 Comments on “Good old Henry Ford”

  1. Les Says:

    Greed and aggrandizement are the primary culprits.

  2. snwoodwork Says:

    There are plenty of employers out there like that. I hear it’s nice.

  3. Jay Em. Says:

    What is not widely known, he later started to pay lower wages and when the workers tried to unionize, he hired thugs to attack the workers with clubs…putting many in the hospital and permanently out of work…He did a lot for industry but he was a strange man…

  4. jeff675 Says:

    Hitler was a big fan too, awarding him “Grand Cross of the German Eagle” in 1938. You might want to read up on Henry a bit more.

    • D.B. Laney Says:

      Ford certainly was a complicated human being. He was a notorious anti-semite. (As was Walt Disney, btw.) He was fearful of Bolshevism. Yet, he worked with the Bolshevik government of the USSR and built the Gorki plant which rivaled River Rouge and remains one of the largest manufacturing facilities ever constructed. Actually, I know quite a bit about both the dark and the light sides of Mr. Ford. My point was this: Ford understood that an economy based on consumption needs consumers. As dual income working families continue to struggle, I wonder if that lesson might not have been lost on many business and government leaders. Maybe, I didn’t express my “musings” as artfully as I could have. I should have said that “even Henry Ford got it.”

      • jeff675 Says:

        The problem that I have with “fordism” is largely that the help he offered his workers was largely tied to micromanaging their behavior to be the sort of “citizens” (not free-agent consumers) that he wanted them to be. That’s why he was anti-union, and anti anything that really empowered workers. That’s why Hitler was a fan, btw, not just because of his industrial efficiency but also his willingness to get behind eugenics, full control over the workers, etc.

        His factories, were to some extent, excellent models for concentration camps. It helps to be careful about what you selectively appropriate. As you seem to be aware, it’s complicated.

      • D.B. Laney Says:

        Unfortunately, we seem to be seeing more of both private and public movements to deny workers rights, breech existing bi-lateral labor agreements and treat workers pension funds as corporate or public assets. No matter how much things seem to change…

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