Tag Archives: 1920s

The $5 Wage and Henry Ford’s Secret Police

“Then — after he’d rocketed up his profitability, and because he needed to attract many more workers — he famously increased his daily wage rate from $2.34 to $5. That was a 114% raise in the wage he paid … after an 800% increase in worker productivity. (How generous!) Then he used the $5 wage as a viscous competitive weapon, to steal the best workers from competitors and other busineses everywhere while firing masses of his own workers. Then he subjected his own new work force to Ford Inc.’s infamous “Sociological Department”, an internal secret police force that he created to scrutinize and spy on every aspect their lives. Not just their work records — efficiency, attendance, attitude towards unions, etc. — but everything, religion, family, personal behavior, the works. Anyone who didn’t pass muster was summarily fired. The $5 wage is what let him keep that iron grip on every aspect of his workers lives. They couldn’t get that pay anywhere else so they endured. For a while, until GM and others matched the assembly line. Then Ford near destroyed his own company with his viscous union-busting and attempts to keep his workers down (see: Battle of the Overpass ), blew his huge market share, and handed the industry to GM. And … from this we now get the story of the $5 wage as “Fordism”, Henry generously doubling his workers’ wages so they could afford to buy the cars they made for him. And others following his precedent being the key to American economic success back in those good old days. LOL! 🙂 My gosh, people will believe anything. But this doesn’t even pass the Urban Legend test of at least seeming plausible. Look at the arthmetic: When workers spend maybe 10% of their pay on car-buying how the heck could Henry have made money by increasing their pay so they could buy his cars??? That 10% of what he paid would have had to cover more than 100% of what he paid! And people believe this nonsense??? Henry Ford was the worst union-busting, labor-exploiting SOB of his generation in the entire auto industry, by far. Maybe the worst in all industry. He nearly destroyed his own company with his obsessive, brutal attempts to keep labor down. But now he’s a hero to the left! “Fordism” made America great. If only labor could get Henry back! 🙂 Anybody who cites this tripe of “Fordism” as generosity to labor, “named after Henry Ford”, that was the key to, well, anything good, disqualifies himself from being taken seriously. Period. So much for this being a “definitive piece” on anything. The real lesson about workers wages from Henry Ford: You want higher wages for workers? Increase their productivity. Then even if their boss is a labor-exploiting SOB like Henry Ford, they’ll get higher wages.”

‘The Great Gatsby’ Still Gets Flappers Wrong

“That’s the piece that most people forget: The flapper movement wasn’t simply a fashion trend… it was a full-blown, grassroots feminist revolution. After an 80-year campaign by suffragists, women were finally granted the right to vote in the United States in 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment was passed. When the U.S. entered World War I in April 1917, many women entered the workforce, and when the soldiers returned in November 1918, their female counterparts were reluctant to give up their jobs. As a result, young, unmarried women experienced far greater financial independence than they’d ever had before. Bicycles, and then cars, allowed them to get around town without a male escort. The spread of electric lighting allowed nightclubs to flourish, just as the Prohibition Amendment of 1919 forced them to go underground. Drinking at illegal “speakeasies” became a thrilling part of flapper culture. Suddenly, it was possible for women to go out and enjoy freedom and rebellion in a way they never had before when they were beholden to their fathers or husbands. She rejected the notion that women should be submissive and keep to their “separate sphere” of the home. She proved that women could work and live independent from men—and party just as hard. She opened up new conversations about dating, sexuality, and sexually transmitted diseases. Along with all those feminist hallmarks, she also created a new, more demanding beauty standard for women that requires wearing makeup, tanning, and dieting and exercising to stay lithe and youthful.”

(via Metafilter: ‘The Great Gatsby’ Still Gets Flappers Wrong)