Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #264: Model T

The T this time thankfully doesn't mean trillion! It's the Ford Model T.

Model T: the car that shaped America turns 100
Ford's iconic Model T was built for the common man and began to transform the American landscape soon after it first rolled out of a Detroit factory a hundred years ago this week.

This is important:
Henry Ford's moving assembly line revolutionized manufacturing and his decision to double the wages of factory workers set a new standard that helped swell the ranks of the middle class.

Emphasis added by me.

A lesson for eBooks here:
The Model T's low price and easy handling made it an instant winner when it hit the market on October 1, 1908. Ford temporarily halted sales in May of 1909 because every vehicle scheduled for production through July had been sold.

But Henry Ford was not satisfied: he was obsessed with finding ways to cut costs and improve productivity.

The first Model T sold for 825 dollars. By 1925, it was cost[ing] only 260 dollars.

Emphasis added by me.
The assembly line was exhausting and repetitive work that turned people into machines. Workers quit so often that Ford had to hire 963 men in 1913 in order to expand the workforce by 100, Casey wrote in 'The Model T."

"What they finally found worked was just pay people a whole lot more and make this new kind of work which was relentless and tiring rewarding in another way," Casey said in a telephone interview.

In January 1914 Ford found a solution: he more than doubled the wages of plant employee, offering them a five dollar, eight hour day.

"The other auto makers realized they'd have to adopt some of these methods," Casey said. "They also had to adopt Ford's pay scales."

Wages soon rose at plants across the country and Ford was able to create a new market for his automobile as unskilled laborers finally earned enough to buy them.

Emphasis added by me.

I cited the lesson of Henry Ford before.

What irony that a hundred years after his revolution, we're on the brink of the end it all.

Maybe because we forgot the lesson he taught us. Near three decades of "luxury" items targeting a sociopathic vanity market and subsistence wages for everyone else has led to the shit we're in.

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