MS Fowler - 12/8/2005 3:24 PM
snips - 12/8/2005 1:57 PM
Henry Ford was a racist, and not a very nice guy. He also gave a gumball machine to Hitler!
Your view of Mr. Ford is decidedly one sided. Like many people, he was a complx person. To some/ many people he was generous and kindly--to others, like his son, Edsel, he was more ruthless. He was not an " inlightened" management type--he refused to give job titles or descriptions--often he would assign several people to the same position and let them fight it out to see who kept it.
He received an award for Hitler--after publishing the Worldwide Jewish Conspiracy in his Dearborn Independent. Further, he never copyrighted that work, so it was, and remains free to any and all. Its available all over the internet. He never did trust Jewish bankers. That dates back to some business early in his career as an auto builder. You should also be aware that, prior to Dec 7, 1941, many Americans were pro-Germany. The America Firsters were very isolationist and wanted to let the Germans and Russians kill each other off. It is only ion hindsight that poorly educated people, today, take Mr. Ford out of his historical context and make him a villian.
Having said all that, he did not discriminate among workers in his plants. He hired people with disabilities that no one else would hire.
He paid his people--especially after the introduction of the $5 day--very well. That event started riots in Dearborn as thousands of men showed up to work for Ford, and all his competitors said it would ruin him and them. Charles Sorenson's account of the discussions that lead up to the $5 day is very interesting.
Olds did not invent the assembly line. Many manufacturers had portions of it in place at that time. They all began to recognize the efficiency gained by moving the materials to the workers and not the workers to the material. They also all began to group their machinery according to the processes involved.
To be clear, and Sorenson emphasises this; Mr. Ford did not invent the assembly line--He created the environment, and the need for ever faster production. The story about the Meat Packing line being the inspiration is all invention after the fact. The moving assembly line grew out of the demand to make more model Ts. The first component to benefit from the assembly line process was the magneto assembly where the manhours to assemble one fell from 20 minutes to 5 minutes. They also devloped lines to assemble the motor and transmission, and the radiators. The breakthrough was the final asembly which required exacting timing to be efficient.
The really great thing is how Ford lowered his price as his factory became ever more efficient. He could have kept he prices high and made serious money. Instead, he lowered his price and sold 15,000,000 Model Ts. He got the price down to where anyone with a steady job could afFORD a new Ford. More than any other person, he deserve credit for putting America on wheels.
But was he a consistent, gentle man? But neither was he the ogre that your post seems to imply.