"American production has come to equal and even surpass, not our people's power to consume, but their power to purchase. . . ." (Time Magazine, Monday, Dec 02, 1929)
Such were the words of Henry Ford, as reported by Time Magazine. Those words were contained in a prepared statement he handed to newspaper reporters after the conclusion of what was perhaps the single largest and most important gathering of domestic business, industrial, and merchandising minds the world had known to date.
At that meeting were key representatives of such great names as: General Electric, AT&T, The American Railway Association, US Steel, General Motors, Sears, and Ford. Henry Ford's expressed solutions to the problems of the day included: "Putting additional value into goods or reducing the prices to the level of actual value," and: "Starting a movement to increase the general wage level."
That meeting followed the great stock market crash of 1929, and it was meant to help build a bulwark against possible negative impact of the recent market wreck against national business interests and the public at large. The leaders of business, industry, and merchandising pledged millions of dollars in expansion, and gave assurances that they would maintain business as usual. At that time the position of then president Herbert Hoover was that there had been no business recession, only the threat of one.
The moves made by government and business in the days soon after the 1929 market crash much foreshadowed the actions of business and government reflected in our troubles of today. The sad truth is though, those actions could not, or did not, serve to mitigate The Great Depression. Then, as now, the teasingly simple mathematics of economics dictated that the world needed a shaking down and leveling off. Mathematical realities are pure logic, and in essence, logic waits for no one.
But this is what scares me; In that time of simpler passion, faith, and thought, our nation was still a place which cared about itself. By that I mean a patriotic spirit of great national pride still held a long stride ahead of the service of personal ambition. This was a country in which success was inextricably bound to the greater good. This nation suffered as one, it strove as one, it fought war as one, and it served as an example to a watchful world.
It was a decade before the effects of the Great Depression began to subside, and it took a generation before the stock market recovered what it had previously lost. It was the patience, hard work and focus of a nation revered and respected which made that time survivable. Could we do it again, in the face of a world which hates us, a government which doesn't respect us and the socialist forces which are threatening to finally overtake our White House? To me, the prospects don't look very good. But of course, that's just my opinion.
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