Growing up with the Unions-Chapter II-Henry Ford
Growing Up with the Unions
In Chapter I, I mentioned a brief conversation that I once had with a man at a very young age. The conversation changed the way I viewed the word, changed what I believed and why I believed it. No longer would I believe something simply because others believed it, or that I had heard it somewhere. That conversation forced me to think and not merely accept something because it made me feel good or, more importantly, because it made me feel a part of something deemed bigger. I often think of such reaction, as a pack mentality. Packs are lead by more aggressive and smarter dogs, but nonetheless still dogs.
It was some years later that I would find the words from the very man that I falsely accused of inventing the automobile; a notion that prompted that fateful conversation.
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.”
Henry Ford was born in the middle of the Civil War on July 30th 1863 and died April 7th 1947. He was just a man, never claiming to be perfect, never claiming to be a messiah, but he came close. Ford’s wealth rose to almost $200 billion at the age of 57 and by 1940 he had created almost 200,000 jobs worldwide. Two hundred thousand people, 200,000 families and hundreds of thousands more, in support businesses, depended on Henry Ford to house, to feed and to clothe themselves.
This is pretty heady stuff and, as many find who reach this plateau, places one a little higher than most and one then, has a tendency to think of himself in the role of a parent or guardian for the entire human race. This ailment, if we can call it that, was not specific to Henry, but is rather a common problem with such personalities. Like Henry a great many of these people come to the realization that they are not a god and will expend a great deal of their wealth in philanthropic pursuits. There are those, however who will attempt to engineer society to meet their own personal ideals of a, ‘common good’. These I call societal engineers.
To make a point; some years ago I was involved with several speaking engagements; most to Atheistic groups in California. Except for those of the Ayn Rand (individual freedom) mindset, most of these people were of the opinion that the other people i.e., theists, believers, the religious were of such a low intellectual quality that they needed a strong central government to guide them through life; Marxist Socialism. This, I think, is the same mindset that we are seeing today; not only in terms of the growth of Atheistic thought, but in government.
I think it important to note here that Marxist Socialism, in no way, defines Atheism. Simply put: Atheism is an embracement of life without a godly definition. Marxist Socialism or socialism in general defines itself, as it embeds itself in the lives of its subjects, as a godly power, as omnipotent. For one who understands the nature of Atheism, this is not acceptable. Socialism of any description is just another word for a god. Socialism, by its own nature is defined in the writings of religious belief, Adolph Hitler, Karl Marx and the United Nations Charter.
It is interesting to hear the current rhetoric that spews from Washington DC today, in that Henry did not build that; that you did not build that. This type of venomous garbage (excuse my English) is absolute Marxism. It is no less than the destruction of private property, individual achievement and self worth.
Henry did and it was his cars that built the roads for his cars. It was his cars that built the middle class and the cars of Chrysler, Dodge and General Motors and others that created more roads and vast communities and businesses that were born around this industry. Detroit flourished and the world was a better place.
The government may build things, but the money it uses is extracted from people through taxation on wages earned from the jobs created by the intellect, effort, daring, risk and vision of the individual capitalist.
It was Henry Ford in 1914, not the unions, who doubled the daily wage of a production worker to $5.00. The effect of this worldwide was astounding and in today’s dollar that would be about $120.00 per day. Other corporations in an attempt to keep skilled labor now understood its value and responded accordingly. The middle class was born and the government was not the parent. The union was not the parent. Capitalism was the father and the American work ethic was the mother.
In many ways, Henry was an altruist and in a couple of ways he saw himself, as almost a Messiah. But first we must understand, that combined with the ability to double his workers pay and the desire to be a father figure, he was a capitalist and he was faced with a problem. The great monotony of the assembly lines led to a tremendous and costly turnover in his work force; therefore a solution had to be found.
Prior to Henry it was the laborer who moved to each job; Henry moved the job function to the stationery employee, by having assembly lines that moved. He pioneered a continuous flow of work, the division of labor, reduced wasted effort and expanded on the idea of interchangeable parts.
This innovation revolutionized the car industry worldwide and every type of assembly operation thereafter. Productivity soared and too, repetitive functions and boredom; thus the high turnover; thus the higher wages to keep the best employees, not the poor employee, the best employee. Henry reduced the amount of time it took to build and entire Model T from 728 minutes to 93 minutes and then to 24 seconds.
"I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces."
It was also Henry, due to his capitalistic perspective, who reduced the work day and work week to five days a week and eight hours per day; not the union, not the government. It was just good business sense. The employee was less tired, happier in his home life and more productive at work. The equation was simple; happy employee, more cars, more profit, more employees.
These two factors created an automobile that was now affordable, not only for the wealthy, but at about $250.00 for everyone, especially that new middle class. Yes! Henry did that.
Now, for who built the roads and the other items needed for an expanding infrastructure and middle class; taxes that the car manufacturers paid and taxes that were paid by that guy who had that ‘car job’ that Henry created. Did I mention that a major road in Detroit MI., Oakman Blvd. that was, in part, privately funded by John Dodge of John and Horace Dodge, one time partners with Henry. And yes, from obscurity they too rose and built cars; the Dodge. Many such roads were built by developers, private money. Their reward was the selling of homes along these boulevards and the development of businesses.
Henry did have help though; Karl Friedrich Benz (1844-1929) of Mercedes Benz fame is credited with the invention of the automobile, which Henry built upon, but there were several people before Benz who are also recognized to have played a role, to include Leonardo da Vinci.
This is the great worth of humanity; we build better things from that, which came before. Henry could never have built his cars without electricity, without steel, without financing and the railroads. His help came from John D. Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Alexander G. Bell and, of course, the Wright Brothers. These are the men who built the railroads, electricity, and the telephone, taught men to fly, smelted the iron and the steel, and created the financing. And importantly, the financing did not come from the government, but from private investors. Most of these men came from insignificance, men who rose to great wealth and in that process benefited, not only America, but the world.
Simply put; what we enjoy now is by virtue of the intellect, the daring and the risk of these great capitalists, visionaries and capitalism.
The government did not build any of this and often found ways to build obstacles to prevent success. Often, bribes were solicited by these politicians, which were paid by the entrepreneur to buy legislation to prevent legislation that would have blocked them. Who is the evil agent here, the one who pays or the one, elected into office with the trust of the people, who like street corner crack whores peddle their wares (legislation) to the highest bidder regardless of and indifference to the voter? And, in this, nothing has changed.
Henry was not perfect, but his great achievements far outweigh any missteps. Henry was anti-Semitic. He owned a newspaper in Dearborn MI., called the Dearborn Independent in which, numerous editorials appeared condemning Jews worldwide for WWI and for most of, what he considered the world’s problems. He was the recipient of the German Verdienstorden vom Deutschen Adlern, an Order of The German Eagle, which was awarded by Adolph Hitler, in recognition for Henry’s sympathetic stand toward the German cause. Henry was later to publically apologize for this position, perhaps, it was from the public outcry or, as some speculate, the influence of his son Edsel, but apologize he did.
He was a pacifist and supported the formation of The League of Nations, which was the parent of the current United Nations. This is an organization that, for me, represents the road to a socialist globalization; a unionized world, as unions are endorsed and embraced by the UN.
Henry saw it differently, perhaps. He had to, as he felt only contempt and loathing for the unions. They were taking what they did not build. They were, as leeches.
Peace and non-violence were the foundation of Henry’s thought processes. He also felt that capitalism and free trade were the primary tools to achieve that end. People would be able to work, to earn and to live a productive life and in that bit of wisdom, guns and wars would not be necessary. Henry failed to realize that people do not make war; leaders make war.
Leaders make war for several reasons, they want what someone else possesses; they want what someone else possesses; they want what someone else possesses. That may be any given number of things, from minerals, gold, land, agriculture lands or ports and industry. They are, as thieves, as the character Fagin in the Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist who entices boys to steal, so to, the leader who entices his people to kill and die for his benefit and profit. (A side note here: profit and capitalism are not synonymous. Profit is the quest of dictators and kings by use of force, as opposed to capitalism, which is best described here by Ayn Rand, “In a capitalist society, all human relationships are voluntary. Men are free to cooperate or not, to deal with one another or not, as their own individual judgments, convictions, and interests dictate. They can deal with one another only in terms of and by means of reason, i.e., by means of discussion, persuasion, and contractual agreement, by voluntary choice to mutual benefit. The right to agree with others is not a problem in any society; it is the right to disagree that is crucial. It is the institution of private property that protects and implements the right to disagree—and thus keeps the road open to man’s most valuable attribute (valuable personally, socially, and objectively): the creative mind.)
These have been wars of the past, however. Wars of the present are not so easy to define. This, ‘want’ of leaders is disguised behind Halloween masks, imminent global disasters and constant threats of war and terror.
As another misstep, but prophetic; Henry promoted a, “welfare capitalism” or paternalism within the company. He established a department that would involve the Ford Company in the private lives of its employees. Henry felt that alcohol and cigarettes led to the breakup of the family unit and that the belief in God was a mandatory requirement to a happy, healthful and productive life. These processes stopped with the realization that employees became too dependent on the company and were becoming unable to lead their own lives.
Let us note here that in today’s corporate world, large and small alike, departments have been created that bring both, corporate and government oriented philosophies into the private lives of the employee. People are being told how to live, what to eat and how to better adjust their lives to the needs of a global society. Employees are, in many cases, required to volunteer (oxymoron) their time and money to specified charities, if a promotion or even hiring is to be expected. We are seeing the mandatory volunteering in schools, if one is to achieve a diploma. We are seeing corporate departments that force the employee to undergo programs that isolate the individualist, the reengineering of private lives, forcing compliance to achieve the team spirit and global citizenship. We are seeing departments dedicated to the promotion of a politically generated philosophy that is found within the UN Charter and the UN Declaration on Human Rights, a contradiction to a grouping of words called the Bill of Rights. But, why would a corporation do this? Does it benefit the corporation? Is it simply a paternal sense that the corporation needs to express, as Henry saw it? Was Henry looking at the control over the employee for the benefit of production? Is the UN looking for control of corporations, as in corporate socialism, for the control of the employee under threat of losing a pay check?
Certainly to volunteer ones time or money for the benefit of those less fortunate is an admirable quality, but to be bullied and threatened to do so is called slavery.
The below quote speaks to a ‘Global Compact’, a compact is, in this reference, a contract. All corporations, profit and non-profit and too, governments have signed onto to this contract.
“The Global Compact asks companies to embrace universal principles and to partner with the United Nations. It has grown to become a critical platform for the UN to engage effectively with enlightened global business.”
– UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
In a later chapter we will look at what ‘universal principles’ may be and how they contradict the Bill of Rights. Is it possible that such an endorsement of these, ‘principles’ by our government and corporations constitute an act of treason?
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