Ford paid five dollars a day

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pages: 251 words: 76,128

Borrow: The American Way of Debt by Louis Hyman


asset-backed security, barriers to entry, big-box store, cashless society, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, deindustrialization, deskilling, diversified portfolio, financial innovation, Ford paid five dollars a day, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, income inequality, market bubble, McMansion, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, new economy, Paul Samuelson, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, Ronald Reagan, statistical model, technology bubble, transaction costs, women in the workforce

Ford himself wrote that “repetitive labor—the doing of one thing over and over again and always in the same way—is a terrifying prospect to a certain kind of mind. It is terrifying to me. I could not possibly do the same thing day in and day out, but other minds, perhaps I might say to the majority of minds, repetitive operations hold no terrors. In fact, to some types of mind thought is absolutely appalling.”7 Yet even for the majority, the work was intolerable. In the early 1910s, Ford had to rehire his entire workforce three or four times a year because everyone quit. The “five-dollar-day,” started in 1914, when Ford paid his workers $5 a day—twice the market wage—virtually eliminated absenteeism and kept the assembly line running. The higher wage also enabled a new generation of American workers to privilege their consumer identity over their producer identity.8 Wages mattered more than workplace control as long as the work was steady and well paid.

Many of those who lost their jobs in the crisis remain unemployed but go uncounted since they have run out of benefits and haven’t looked for work in the last two weeks (which is how the government measures unemployment). Even those who have found work have often had to accept lower wages. The media celebration of McDonald’s National Hiring Day in early 2011 speaks to how far we have drifted from Ford’s five-dollar day. Even for those with jobs, income interruptions remain as dangerous as ever, as unemployment times lengthen. Since health care insurance is tied to employment, illness and job loss can continue to be a double whammy. Compared to Europe, the limited welfare state has pushed Americans to borrow to bridge unemployment and pay for health care. Even for those with jobs, health care insurance remains expensive and, for the millions of uninsured or underinsured, remains a key cause of bankruptcy.

pages: 400 words: 129,841

Capitalism: the unknown ideal by Ayn Rand


Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, East Village, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, Isaac Newton, laissez-faire capitalism, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, profit motive, the market place, trade route, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, War on Poverty, yellow journalism

As capitalism created countless new markets, so it created an ever-widening market for labor: it multiplied the number and kinds of jobs available, increased the demand and competition for the worker’s services, and thus drove wage rates upward. It was the economic self-interest of employers that led them to raise wages and shorten working hours—not the pressure of labor unions. The eight-hour day was established in most American industries long before unions acquired any significant size or economic power. At a time when his competitors were paying their workers between two and three dollars a day, Henry Ford offered five dollars a day, thereby attracting the most efficient labor force in the country, and thus raising his own production and profits. In the 1920’s, when the labor movement in France and Germany was far more dominant than in the United States, the standard of living of the American worker was greatly superior. It was the consequence of economic freedom. Needless to say, men have a right to organize into unions, provided they do so voluntarily, that is, provided no one is forced to join.

pages: 353 words: 98,267

The Price of Everything: And the Hidden Logic of Value by Eduardo Porter


Alvin Roth, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, British Empire, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Credit Default Swap, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Glaeser, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, happiness index / gross national happiness, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Jean Tirole, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, means of production, Menlo Park, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, new economy, New Urbanism, peer-to-peer, pension reform, Peter Singer: altruism,, placebo effect, price discrimination, price stability, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, superstar cities, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, ultimatum game, unpaid internship, urban planning, Veblen good, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, Yom Kippur War, young professional, zero-sum game

After Eastman committed suicide in 1932 by shooting himself in the heart, the obituary in the New York Times applauded his “advanced ideas in the field of personal industrial relations.” Other pioneers tried to deploy pay as an incentive. Facing low worker morale and high turnover on the production line, in January 1914 Henry Ford raised wages to five dollars a day, doubling at a stroke most workers’ pay. It worked, apparently. Job seekers formed a line around Ford’s shop. The journalist O. J. Abell wrote at the time that after the pay hike Ford was churning out 15 percent more cars a day with 14 percent fewer workers. Henry Ford later observed: “The payment of five dollars a day for an eight-hour day was one of the finest cost-cutting moves we ever made.” Gradually, the rest of the car industry followed. By 1928, wages in the auto industry were already about 40 percent higher than at other manufacturers.

pages: 387 words: 110,820

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture by Ellen Ruppel Shell


barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, cognitive dissonance, computer age, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, deskilling, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, fear of failure, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, global village, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income inequality, interchangeable parts, inventory management, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge economy, loss aversion, market design, means of production, mental accounting, Pearl River Delta, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price discrimination, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Steve Jobs, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, traveling salesman, ultimatum game, Victor Gruen, washing machines reduced drudgery, working poor, yield management, zero-sum game

Workers were disqualified if it was determined that the lavish sum of $5 a day would “make of them a menace to society” and “no man was to receive the money who could not use it advisedly.” 21 automakers were forced to follow suit: See, for example, Stephen Meyer III, The Five-Dollar Day: Labor Management and Social Control in the Ford Motor Company, 1908-1921 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1981). For an excellent online synopsis of this period in Ford history, see “The Assembly Line and the Five Dollar Day” at,1607,7-160-17451__18670__18793-53441—,00.html. 21 five-dollar day; and low prices: Ibid., 263. 21 to $290 in the early 1920s: Steven Babson, Working Detroit, 30. 21 that placed goods and spending at the center of social life: Charles McGovern, Sold American: Consumption and Citizenship, 1890-1945 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2006). 22 “promise of greater freedom, democracy and quality”: Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumers’ Republic (New York: Knopf, 2003).

pages: 341 words: 89,986

Bricks & Mortals: Ten Great Buildings and the People They Made by Tom Wilkinson


Berlin Wall, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, double helix, experimental subject, false memory syndrome, financial independence, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Google Glasses, housing crisis, Kitchen Debate, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, megacity, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, urban planning

The home had become part of the factory and was – just as much as a glass or tyre plant, a steel press or an iron foundry – a site of production, reconceived as a total process, and thus also subject to the improvements of scientific management. But Ford’s imperial troops eventually retreated from the battlefield of the home. In 1921 he gave up on social engineering and shut down the Sociological Department. Continuing demands for unionisation had embittered Ford. He would not countenance bargaining with his employees and felt that his five-dollar munificence was going unappreciated. That year he instituted a speed-up that squeezed the same output from 40 per cent fewer workers, which allowed him to sack 20,000 men, including 75 per cent of his middle managers. As a result, his profits for 1921–2 jumped to $200 million. At the same time his attitude towards discipline hardened, and he turned from carrot to stick.

pages: 265 words: 74,941

The Great Reset: How the Post-Crash Economy Will Change the Way We Live and Work by Richard Florida

banking crisis, big-box store, blue-collar work, car-free, carbon footprint, collapse of Lehman Brothers, congestion charging, creative destruction, deskilling, edge city, Edward Glaeser, falling living standards, financial innovation, Ford paid five dollars a day, high net worth, Home mortgage interest deduction, housing crisis, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, invention of the telephone, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labour mobility, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, McMansion, Menlo Park, Nate Silver, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, pattern recognition, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, reserve currency, Richard Florida, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, sovereign wealth fund, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, total factor productivity, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, white flight, young professional, Zipcar

That crisis was brought on by the inability of early cities and early industrial society to contain the productive capabilities of the large-scale, mass production economy. Suburbanization was the spatial fix for the industrial age—the geographic expression of that economic model. Henry Ford’s automobiles had been rolling off assembly lines since 1913. After making auto production cheaper and more efficient, Henry Ford realized that a bigger market for his assembly-line cars was needed, so he boosted workers’ wages and introduced the “five-dollar day.” But true Fordism, the combination of mass production and mass consumption, didn’t emerge as a full-blown economic and social model until mass suburbanization—the spatial fix of post–World War II America. Our own collapse, in the early years of the twenty-first century, is the crisis of the latest economic revolution—the rise of an idea-driven knowledge economy that runs more on brains than brawn.

By the time Keynes published his classic General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money in 1936, it was clear that government had to spend money to counter economic decline, but it was also clear where that money should be spent: on large-scale infrastructure construction projects such as highways, public works, and even housing. Well before Keynes argued for government spending to stimulate the economy, Henry Ford made the case for a five-dollar working day, so autoworkers could purchase the cars they built. The retail magnate Lincoln Filene—yes, he of Filene’s Basement—said the key challenge facing the economy was to boost consumer demand for all sorts of products. Some even interpreted Keynes as implying that the economy would be better off even if all workers did was dig ditches and fill them up again. But what worked during the Great Depression will not work quite as well now.

pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay


3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, digital map, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Kangaroo Route, knowledge worker, kremlinology, labour mobility, Marchetti’s constant, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel,, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, white picket fence, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Visteon has never turned a profit. “Winter Is Here, but Spring Is Coming Too” “The U.S. automotive industry has been pushed to the verge of collapse,” the chairman of American Axle decreed two years ago. Michigan has shed two-thirds of its autoworkers in barely a decade. If Detroit is to have a future, then its residents must give up their malignant dreams of its past, the dream of Henry Ford’s five-dollar-a-day wages and River Rouge, where one hundred thousand men once forged raw coal, sand, and iron into Model Ts. His dream was to build a city on the back of such immense and monotonous efficiency, spurning the “fertile and creative inefficiency” Jane Jacobs recognized as the sign of vitality. For the aerotropolis to succeed in restarting Detroit’s evolution, it must turn its back on Ford’s legacy.

pages: 340 words: 92,904

Street Smart: The Rise of Cities and the Fall of Cars by Samuel I. Schwartz


2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, autonomous vehicles, car-free, City Beautiful movement, collaborative consumption, congestion charging, crowdsourcing, desegregation, Enrique Peñalosa, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frederick Winslow Taylor, if you build it, they will come, Induced demand, intermodal, invention of the wheel, lake wobegon effect, Loma Prieta earthquake, Lyft, Masdar, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Nate Silver, oil shock, Productivity paradox, Ralph Nader, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, self-driving car, skinny streets, smart cities, smart grid, smart transportation, the built environment, the map is not the territory, transportation-network company, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, walkable city, Wall-E, white flight, white picket fence, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Zipcar

From December of 1908 through the end of 1910, only twelve thousand Model T’s were sold, at an average price of $850—relatively inexpensive, but still out of the reach of most Americans. In 1911, though, Ford moved manufacturing to a new state-of-the-art plant in Highland Park and turned out seventy thousand T’s. It was only the beginning. In 1912, Highland Park made 170,000 cars; in 1913, more than 200,000. In 1914, not only did the factory’s laborers churn out 308,000 cars, but they did so at a salary that Ford had doubled, to the famous “five-dollar day.” By 1915, when Highland Park produced more than half a million Model T’s, the price had dropped under $300 each, which meant that Ford assembly-line workers needed to work only nine weeks or so to earn enough money to buy a brand-new car. And they did. As did millions of others. By 1924, more than half the country’s seventeen million automobiles were Model T’s. All those Fords, along with Dodges, Packards, Buicks, and forgotten models like Brewsters, Biddles, and Westrofts, produced, for the first time, a conflict over the ownership of America’s roads—what became known to historians as the “battle over right-of-way.”

pages: 502 words: 125,785

The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War by A. J. Baime

banking crisis, British Empire, Ford paid five dollars a day, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, housing crisis, interchangeable parts, Louis Blériot, mass immigration, means of production, Silicon Valley, strikebreaker

. [>] “When Henry Ford took me”: Douglas Brinkley, Wheels for the World (New York: Penguin, 2003), p. 137. [>] “Fancy a jungle of wheels”: Julian Street and Wallace Morgan, Abroad at Home (New York: The Century Company, 1914), p. 93. [>] “The Ford Motor Company”: Brinkley, Wheels for the World, p. 162. [>] “He’s crazy, isn’t he?”: Collier and Horowitz, The Fords, p. 49. [>] “Biblical principles”: Ibid. [>] “see to it that he’s”: Robert Lacey, Ford: The Men and the Machine (Boston: Little, Brown, 1986), pp. 222–23. [>] “Five dollars a day was”: Brinkley, Wheels for the World, p. 171. [>] “We are going to make it”: Beasley, Knudsen, p. 71. [>] “the Zeus of American mythology”: Reynold M. Wik, Henry Ford and Grass Roots America (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972), p. 6. [>] ranked Henry Ford third: Charles Higham, Trading with the Enemy (Lincoln, NE: Authors Guild, 2007), p. 154. [>] “The machine is the new messiah”: Henry Ford, “Machinery, the New Messiah,” The Forum 79, March 1928, pp. 363–64. [>] “Machinery is accomplishing”: Henry Ford and Ray Leone Faurote, My Philosophy of Industry (New York: Coward-McCann, 1929), pp. 18–19. 3.

pages: 1,073 words: 302,361

Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World by William D. Cohan


asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, buttonwood tree, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversified portfolio, fear of failure, financial innovation, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, hiring and firing, hive mind, Hyman Minsky, interest rate swap, John Meriwether, Kenneth Arrow, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market bubble, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, South Sea Bubble, time value of money, too big to fail, traveling salesman, value at risk, yield curve, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Since there were monthly quotas to meet, the Whiteheads ended up with more than their fair share of the furniture. “I always thought that ours was the best-furnished porch in Montclair,” Whitehead quipped. During the Depression, the Whiteheads survived on macaroni and cheese and codfish cakes, recycled clothing, Amos ’n’ Andy, Jack Armstrong, The All-American Boy, and Roosevelt’s fireside chats. The family was able to spring for a new 1934 Model A Ford—cost: five hundred dollars. Like so many of his generation, living through the Depression seared in Whitehead an aversion to risk and borrowing money. “I don’t even like credit cards!” he proclaimed. But he did not think of his family as poor “probably because we were no worse off than anyone else I knew.” Whitehead seemed to have a fairly normal childhood, collecting acorns, Indian-head pennies, and stamps.

pages: 323 words: 90,868

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-First Century by Ryan Avent


3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, mass immigration, means of production, new economy, performance metric,, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, software is eating the world, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, very high income, working-age population

‘The March of Europe’s Little Trumps’, The Economist, 12 December 2015; ‘A Blazing Surprise’, The Economist, 1 June 2013.   3. Dabla-Norris, Era, Kochhar, Kalpana, Suphaphiphat, Nujin, Ricka, Frantisek, and Tsounta, Evridiki, ‘Causes and Consequences of Income Inequality: A Global Perspective’, IMF Staff Discussion Note, 1 June 2015.   4. Raff, Daniel, and Summers, Lawrence, ‘Did Henry Ford Pay Efficiency Wages?’, Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 5, No. 4, Pt 2, October 1987.   5. Meyer, III, Stephen, The Five Dollar Day: Labor Management and Social Control in the Ford Motor Company, 1908-1921 (New York, NY: SUNY Press, 1981), quoted in ibid.   6. Hall, Jonathan, and Krueger, Alan, ‘An Analysis of the Labor Market for Uber’s Driver-Partners in the United States’, Working Paper, Princeton University, Industrial Relations Section, January 2015.   7. 

pages: 416 words: 129,308

The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant

Airbnb, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer vision, conceptual framework, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Hangouts, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Gruber, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Lyft, M-Pesa, more computing power than Apollo, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, oil shock, pattern recognition, peak oil, pirate software, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, Snapchat, special economic zone, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Tim Cook: Apple, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, Vannevar Bush, zero day

Meanwhile, Foxconn is in talks with the Indian government to move some iPhone manufacturing to the second-most-populous nation; it already has factories running in farther-flung locations like the Czech Republic and Brazil, and it’s considering more. It is reportedly building a fleet of so-called Foxbots, iPhone-building robots that might eventually replace human laborers altogether. All of this serves to keep its employees’ wages—which are higher than other factory workers’, it must be noted—low. It’s a pretty astonishing sign of how far the assembly line has evolved. Henry Ford famously began paying his workers five dollars a day in 1914, a high wage for the era, saying he thought they ought to be able to afford the Model Ts they were making. (That wasn’t the whole story, of course—before he increased wages, he had a major attrition problem. The annual turnover rate was 370 percent because people hated the boring, repetitive work.) That’s not true of employees who make iPhones—despite the fact that it’s only a handheld device, not a car.

pages: 452 words: 150,785

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales From the World of Wall Street by John Brooks


banking crisis, Bretton Woods, business climate, cuban missile crisis, Ford paid five dollars a day, Gunnar Myrdal, invention of the wheel, large denomination, margin call, Marshall McLuhan, Plutocrats, plutocrats, short selling, special drawing rights, tulip mania, upwardly mobile, very high income

THE origins of the Edsel go back to the fall of 1948, seven years before the year of decision, when Henry Ford II, who had been president and undisputed boss of the company since the death of his grandfather, the original Henry, a year earlier, proposed to the company’s executive committee, which included Ernest R. Breech, the executive vice-president, that studies be undertaken concerning the wisdom of putting on the market a new and wholly different medium-priced car. The studies were undertaken. There appeared to be good reason for them. It was a well-known practice at the time for low-income owners of Fords, Plymouths, and Chevrolets to turn in their symbols of inferior caste as soon as their earnings rose above five thousand dollars a year, and “trade up” to a medium-priced car. From Ford’s point of view, this would have been all well and good except that, for some reason, Ford owners usually traded up not to Mercury, the company’s only medium-priced car, but to one or another of the medium-priced cars put out by its big rivals—Oldsmobile, Buick, and Pontiac, among the General Motors products, and, to a lesser extent, Dodge and De Soto, the Chrysler candidates.

pages: 394 words: 118,929

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software by Scott Rosenberg


A Pattern Language, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall,, call centre, collaborative editing, conceptual framework, continuous integration, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook,, Firefox, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Howard Rheingold, index card, Internet Archive, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Larry Wall, life extension, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Merlin Mann, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Potemkin village, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, Ruby on Rails, semantic web, side project, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, software studies, source of truth, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Therac-25, thinkpad, Turing test, VA Linux, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

But don’t jump to the conclusion that government is the problem here; the record in private industry offers little solace. The corporate landscape is littered with disaster stories, too. There’s McDonald’s “Innovate”—$170 million down the drain in a failed effort to turn the entire fast-food chain into a “real-time network” that would give execs instantaneous reporting on the precise status of each individual batch of French fries. And there’s Ford’s “Everest” procurement system, a five-year, several-hundred-million-dollar black hole. It’s tempting to view the multitude of monster projects gone bad as anomalies, excrescences of corporate and government bureaucracies run amok. But you will find similar tales of woe emerging from software projects big and small, public and private, old and new. Though details differ, the pattern is depressingly repetitive: Moving targets. Fluctuating goals.

pages: 540 words: 168,921

The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism by Joyce Appleby


1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, Bartolomé de las Casas, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, commoditize, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Doha Development Round, double entry bookkeeping, epigenetics, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, facts on the ground, failed state, Firefox, fixed income, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francisco Pizarro, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gordon Gekko, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, informal economy, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, land reform, Livingstone, I presume, Long Term Capital Management, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Wolf, moral hazard, Parag Khanna, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, strikebreaker, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Yogi Berra, Yom Kippur War

His mass producers at one factory spoke fifty different languages, but it didn’t matter, because they needed to know how to do only one task.43 Ford’s success can be measured by the fact that his famous assembly line, when perfected, could turn out a car in ninety-eight minutes! The Model T made its appearance in 1908; it was elegant in design and engineering and available in any color, Ford announced, “as long as it was black.” More important, most middle-class Americans could afford one, including Ford’s workers, whom he started paying five dollars a day in 1914. His goal was for his men to earn wages high enough for them to buy what they produced. And buy they did. The scientific management of labor had already attracted the attention of Frederick Winslow Taylor, who carefully observed men working in the steel industry in the 1880s and 1890s. Taylor brought to his research the conviction that scientific management could blend the interests of bosses and workers.

pages: 538 words: 138,544

The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better by Annie Leonard


air freight, banking crisis, big-box store, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, carbon footprint, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, dematerialisation, employer provided health coverage, energy security, European colonialism, Firefox, Food sovereignty, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, global supply chain, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, liberation theology, McMansion, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Ralph Nader, renewable energy credits, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, supply-chain management, the built environment, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, Wall-E, Whole Earth Review, Zipcar

Ford’s theories of mass production have been so influential that they are widely referred to as Fordism, but what many people don’t realize is that the assembly line piece of it is only half of the story. As much as it involved increasing mass production, Fordism was equally concerned with facilitating mass consumption because, as Ford realized, producers can’t keep churning out all this Stuff unless someone is going to buy it. In 1914, Ford took the unprecedented step of voluntarily doubling his workers’ salaries to five dollars a day (equivalent to just over one hundred dollars a day in 2008 dollars). He also decreased the workday from nine to eight hours. His reward: lower worker turnover, the ability to run three shifts a day instead of two, and greater car sales as the workers themselves joined his customer base. Other companies watching this process soon followed Ford’s lead, and the foundation for mass consumerism was set.53 With Fordism set into motion, people had the means to buy Stuff, but not yet the inclination.

pages: 378 words: 102,966

Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by John de Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H Naylor, David Horsey


big-box store, Community Supported Agriculture, Corrections Corporation of America, Donald Trump, Exxon Valdez, financial independence, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, God and Mammon, greed is good, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Mark Shuttleworth, McMansion, medical malpractice, new economy, Ralph Nader, Ray Oldenburg, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, The Great Good Place, trade route, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra, young professional

PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE “The immediate postwar period does represent a huge change in the kinds of attitudes that Americans have had about consumption,” says historian Susan Strasser, the author of Satisfaction Guaranteed.3 “Discreetly conspicuous waste” got another boost from what marketers called “planned obsolescence.” Products were made to last only a short time so that they would have to be replaced frequently (adding to sales), or they were continually upgraded, more commonly in style than in quality. It was an idea that began long before World War II with Gillette disposable razors, and it soon took on a larger life. Henry Ford, who helped start the ’20s consumer boom by paying his workers a then-fantastic five dollars a day, was a bit of a conservative about style, once promising that consumers could have one of his famous Model T’s in any color as long as it was black. But just before the Great Depression, General Motors introduced the idea of the annual model change. It was an idea that took off after World War II. Families were encouraged to buy a new car every year.

pages: 926 words: 312,419