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The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War by A. J. Baime
banking crisis, British Empire, Charles Lindbergh, 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
It was clear that something drastic was about to occur. And then one day it did. On the morning of May 26, 1937, a union leader named Walter Reuther organized a gathering outside the Rouge’s main entrance, Gate 4, to hand out United Auto Workers union literature—mostly quotes pulled out of Roosevelt’s Wagner Act, which dictated by federal law for the first time that labor could organize. The Wagner Act changed the playing field in Detroit like nowhere else, putting unprecedented amounts of power in the hands of the workingman. It was a typical spring morning in southern Michigan, warm and humid, with a drab, acid-stained sky. As more union men gathered, reporters and photographers showed up, as well as clergymen. Union activity was the source of mounting tension in the Motor City, but nowhere was that tension as fraught with danger as it was at the Rouge.
The historic “Battle of the Overpass” had begun. For months Henry Ford had stoked the fire in the Rouge. All of the Detroit companies had resisted union activity (General Motors, by this time the largest company in the world, paid $1 million to detective agencies in the mid-1930s to infiltrate the plants and rid them of labor leaders), but Henry had gone a step further. The advent of the union, a keystone of Roosevelt’s New Deal, incited rage in Henry. “Labor unions are the worst thing that ever struck the earth,” he said in a statement in 1937. “Financiers are behind the unions and their object is to kill competition so as to reduce the income of the workers and eventually bring on war. We will never recognize the United Auto Workers union or any other union.” Both General Motors and Chrysler signed union contracts in 1937, leaving Ford as the holdout—union enemy number one.
Why not call the family who pioneered aviation through the 1920s, the family who invented the idea of fully integrated mass production on a grand scale in the first place? When it came to the Ford family, as one government official put it, “nothing was ever impossible.” 8 “Gentlemen, We Must Outbuild Hitler” Spring to Fall 1940 England’s battles, it used to be said, were won on the playing fields of Eton. This plan is put forward in the belief that America’s can be won on the assembly lines of Detroit. —WALTER REUTHER, 1940 AT THE ROUNDTABLE LUNCHEON in Dearborn, with Henry Ford sitting between Edsel and Sorensen and waiters in white coats hovering, the conversation turned to the war in Europe. The situation overseas sent Henry into fits of rage, which he unleashed at the Roundtable. He was “obsessed with the European situation,” according to Sorensen. “It was on his mind night and day. Anything pertaining to Europe would upset him.
Utopia for Realists: The Case for a Universal Basic Income, Open Borders, and a 15-Hour Workweek by Rutger Bregman
autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Bartolomé de las Casas, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Branko Milanovic, cognitive dissonance, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Graeber, Diane Coyle, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, full employment, George Gilder, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, income inequality, invention of gunpowder, James Watt: steam engine, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, low skilled workers, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, precariat, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, stem cell, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, The Future of Employment, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wage slave, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, wikimedia commons, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey
If a law of common progress fails to manifest itself of its own accord, there is nothing to stop us from enacting it ourselves. Indeed, the absence of such a law may well imperil the free market itself. “We have to save capitalism from the capitalists,” Piketty concludes.37 This paradox is neatly summed up by an anecdote from the 1960s. When Henry Ford’s grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory, he jokingly asked, “Walter, how are you going to get those robots to pay your union dues?” Without missing a beat, Reuther answered, “Henry, how are you going to get them to buy your cars?” So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.
England was perfectly happy to ship food to France, for example, but banned exports of gold because British politicians had gotten it into their heads that a lack of bullion would crush the enemy faster than famine. If you were to ask a mercantilist for his top tip, it would be lower wages – the lower the better. Cheap labor hones your competitive edge and therefore boosts exports. In the words of the famous economist Bernard de Mandeville, “It is manifest, that in a free Nation where Slaves are not allow’d of, the surest Wealth consists in a Multitude of laborious Poor.” Mandeville couldn’t have been wider of the mark. By now we’ve learned that wealth begets more wealth, whether you’re talking about people or about nations. Henry Ford knew it and that’s why he gave his employees a hefty raise in 1914; how else would they ever be able to afford his cars? “Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult,” said the British essayist Samuel Johnson in 1782.
John Stuart Mill, Principles of Political Economy with some of their Applications to Social Philosophy (1848), Book IV, Chapter VI. http://www.econlib.org/library/Mill/mlP61.html 3. Quoted from Bertrand Russell’s essay, “In Praise of Idleness” (1932). http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html 4. Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt, “The End of Shorter Hours,” Labor History (Summer 1984), pp. 373-404. 5. Ibid. 6. Samuel Crowther, “Henry Ford: Why I Favor Five Days’ Work With Six Days’ Pay,” World’s Work. https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/HENRY_FORD:_Why_I_Favor_Five_Days’_Work_With_Six_Days’_Pay 7. Andrew Simms and Molly Conisbee, “National Gardening Leave,” in: Anna Coote and Jane Franklin (eds), Time on our side. Why we all need a shorter workweek (2013), p. 155. 8. “Nixon Defends 4-Day Week Claim,” The Milwaukee Sentinel (September 25, 1956). https://news.google.com/newspapers?
Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges
1960s counterculture, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, call centre, clean water, collective bargaining, Columbine, corporate governance, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, hive mind, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Lao Tzu, Pearl River Delta, post scarcity, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, strikebreaker, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tobin tax, union organizing, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, WikiLeaks, working poor, Works Progress Administration
Antiwar activists were portrayed as spoiled children of the rich and the middle class who advocated free love, drug use, communism, and social anarchy. The unions remained virulently anticommunist, spoke in the language of militarism and the Cold War, and were largely unsympathetic to the civil-rights and antiwar movements. When student activists protested at the 1965 AFL-CIO Convention in San Francisco, chanting, “Get out of Vietnam!” the delegates taunted them by shouting, “Get a haircut.” AFL-CIO president George Meany ordered the security to “clear the Kookies out of the gallery.” Once the protesters were escorted out, Walter Reuther, president of the United Automobile Workers and a leading force in the AFL-CIO, announced that “protestors should be demonstrating against Hanoi and Peking . . . [who] are responsible for the war.” The convention passed a resolution that read “The labor movement proclaim[s] to the world that the nation’s working men and women do support the Johnson administration in Vietnam.”2 Those that constituted the hard-core New Left, groups like Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), found their inspiration in the liberation struggles in Vietnam and the third world rather than the labor movement, which they considered bought off by capitalism.
Joseph D. Cannon, a labor leader, has been delegated to agitate among the miners of the West; A. W. Ricker, a magazine editor, will try to gain a foothold for the organization among the farmers of the Northwest; James D. Maurer, the Pennsylvania labor agitator, will devote his efforts to the great labor centres in the State, while Professor L. M. Keasbey of the University of Texas and an Australian preacher named Gordon will try to bring the South into line against President Wilson and in favor of a peace which it is generally admitted is such a peace as the Germans would now accept. Some of the people who are listed as “hard workers” in the organization are David Starr Jordan, who is the Treasurer; L. P. Lochner, the man who is generally credited with having persuaded Henry Ford to back the peace ship venture; the Rev.
How did we forget that those who built our democracy and furthered the rights of American workers were not men like Smith, who use power and money to perpetuate the parochial and selfish interests of the elite, but the legions of embattled strikers in the coal fields, on factory floors, and in steel mills, who gave us unions, decent wages and the forty-hour work week? How was it possible to pass the Taft-Hartley Act, which, in one deft move, emasculated the labor movement? How is it possible that it remains in force? Union workers, who at times paid with their lives, halted the country’s enslavement to the rich and the greedy. But now that unions have been broken, rapacious corporations like FedEx and toadies in Congress and the White House are transforming our working class into serfs. UPS, by contrast with its competitor FedEx, is unionized. It is the largest employer of Teamsters members. Labor costs, because of the union, account for almost two-thirds of its operating expenses. But Smith of FedEx spends only a third of his costs on labor. There is something very wrong with a country that leaves a worker like Henderson in a tiny apartment in excruciating pain and fighting off depression while his former billionaire boss is fêted as a man of vision and invited to lunch at the White House.
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bank run, big-box store, citizen journalism, cleantech, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, deindustrialization, diversified portfolio, East Village, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, family office, financial independence, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, housing crisis, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Neil Kinnock, new economy, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, oil shock, paypal mafia, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, Richard Florida, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, smart grid, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, union organizing, urban planning, We are the 99%, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, white flight, white picket fence, zero-sum game
Hillsborough and the neighboring counties became conservative, churchgoing country, with antiabortion signs and prophecies of Judgment Day scattered among the highway billboards advertising model homes and liposuction. But those older values went soft in the flat light that stared down like a constant high noon. There were the Luxes, Richard and Anita, from Michigan. Anita’s father had worked in Ford’s River Rouge plant long enough to remember Henry Ford and Walter Reuther, and Anita had a job with the city of Dearborn, until Richard’s architectural firm asked him to start a new Florida office in the eighties. Anita brought her father’s frugality to St. Petersburg and remained a coupon queen. But she went to work at Wachovia Bank, which got heavily into subprime loans after acquiring World Savings, out of California: the loans were called “Pick a Pay,” and the customers were invited to design their own mortgages, choosing an interest rate and a payment plan.
His widow, Anne, lived on for almost two more decades in the mansion at 280 Tod Lane—years when most of the other elite families sold their mills and left Youngstown for more cosmopolitan, better-smelling locales. The steel companies continued to keep out other industries that might have competed for Youngstown’s labor force. In the fifties, when Henry Ford II was exploring the possibility of opening an auto plant on a railroad scrap yard north of the city, local industrialists and absentee-owned corporations threw up enough obstacles to kill the idea. In 1950, Edward DeBartolo built one of the country’s first strip malls out in Boardman, and the growth of shopping plazas began to sap the commercial heart of town. White workers moved to the suburbs for work in lighter industry, opening up good jobs in the steel mills for the first time to the black workers who stayed behind.
After getting thrown out by Gary and them he came very close to quitting biodiesel, but it turned out to be one of the best things in his life. Otherwise, he never would have come up with the new idea. He would have stayed at Red Birch until he died trying. There was a Henry Ford quote that he’d read somewhere: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” TAMMY THOMAS Tammy loved doing actions. She loved the bigger stage, the larger movement. Public speaking freaked her out, but in 2009, when the organization joined unions and other groups in rallies for health care reform and other causes all over Ohio and in Washington, Tammy would be at the front of the bus leading the songs and chants. She had a sense of the drama, and how to keep it alive when it was fading. Once, outside a Chase Bank in Columbus, an organizer with a bullhorn kept trying to get a chant of “Si se puede” started, the Spanish version of Obama’s “Yes we can,” but there were hardly any Hispanics in the crowd.
The Cold War by Robert Cowley
anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Doomsday Clock, friendly fire, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, RAND corporation, refrigerator car, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, Stanislav Petrov, transcontinental railway
The second DAFT episode, weaving domestic politics with world affairs, opens in August 1963, when “the shamed representatives of the new African states went into virtual hiding” at the U.N. because “most Caucasians south of the Sahara to the Union of S. Africa had been wiped out in a gruesome cannabalistic [sic] orgy of Inter-tribal MauMau murder more shocking than anything in history.” The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. (then Adlai Stevenson) “introduced only an insipid motion of censure against the responsible African governments.” So “the U.S. Congress, Press and public, surfeited with our namby-pamby reactive policy (dubbed ‘shrinkmanship’ by ex-governor Tom Dewey), blew up.” Congress demands U.S. withdrawal from the U.N. and impeaches the president. In the new Cabinet, United Auto Workers leader Walter Reuther is secretary of state and Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa is secretary of labor. (In real life, Hoffa, just convicted of jury tampering, was the major target of Attorney General Robert Kennedy's investigation of labor racketeering.)
In Worcester, Massachusetts, and San Gabriel, California, Truman was burned in effigy. In Houston, a Protestant minister became so angry dictating a telegram to the White House that he died of a heart attack. In the hallways of the Senate and House office buildings, Western Union messengers made their deliveries with bushel baskets. According to one tally, of the 44,358 telegrams received by Republicans in Congress during the first forty-eight hours following Truman's announcement, all but 334 condemned him or took the side of MacArthur, and the majority called for Truman's immediate removal from office. A number of prominent liberals—Eleanor Roosevelt, Walter Reuther, Justice William O. Douglas—publicly supported Truman. Further, throughout Europe, MacArthur's dismissal was greeted as welcome news. But most impressive was the weight of editorial opinion at home in support of Truman—in-cluding some staunch Republican newspapers—despite vehement assaults in the McCormick, Hearst, and Scripps Howard papers, as well as the renewed glorification of MacArthur in Henry Luce's Time and Life.
Also like MacArthur, McClellan occasionally made political statements on matters outside the military field. Truman later wrote that Lincoln was patient, for that was his nature, but at long last he was compelled to relieve the Union Army's principal commander. And though I gave this difficulty with MacArthur much wearisome thought, I realized that I would have no other choice myself than to relieve the nation's top field commander…. I wrestled with the problem for several days, but my mind was made up before April 5, when the next incident occurred. On Thursday, April 5, at the Capitol, House Minority Leader Joe Martin took the floor to read a letter from MacArthur that Martin said he felt dutybound to withhold no longer. In February, speaking in Brooklyn, Martin had called for the use of Chiang Kai-shek's troops in Korea and accused the administration of a defeatist policy.
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, Charles Lindbergh, 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, 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
Beneficent employers from Wedgwood to Watson treated their employees as fellow human beings, but it took unions to secure recognition that manual laborers had legitimate interests of their own in the workplace, even if someone else owned it. Labor and management settled most conflicts peacefully, but strikes continued. President Truman ordered the U.S. Army to take over the railroads to end a 1950 strike. He tried to do the same thing with steelworkers in 1952, but these flare-ups did not halt the spread of union shops across America. Still, prosperity offered the best road to higher wages. The percentage of people living below the poverty level went from one-third in 1950 to 10 percent in 1973.37 What Americans didn’t get was a social safety net like those that were being put in place, or perfected, in Europe. Walter Reuther, head of the United Auto Workers, had taken a world tour for thirty-two months before the war, working around the globe.
With the goal of representing a third of the American work force, as it did in its heyday in 1950, the AFL-CIO began a campaign explaining how a strong labor movement energizes democracy and keeps alive a moral commitment to living wages and decent working conditions worldwide. The facts on the ground back it up: Between 1978 and 2008 CEO salaries went from levels 35 times those of an average worker to 275 times. Nor have corporate heads been generous to their workers, as Henry Ford once was. Although the rate of American productivity has risen since 2003, wages have not, and benefits have declined in value. Organized labor backs the Employee Free Choice Act, which Republicans blocked with a filibuster in the Senate in 2007. EFCA would protect workers’ right to organize their plant once a majority of them had signed cards expressing their intent to form a union. Statistics indicate that one-quarter of all employers have illegally fired at least one person for union organizing, so unions consider EFCA essential to organizing new plants.
The new interstate highway system followed the same route, the old Lincoln Highway, as the army convoy of 1919.18 Organized labor became a force in the American economy after passage of the Wagner Act, formally known as the National Labor Relations Act of 1935. This Magna Carta for labor gave statutory protection to organizing workers. Public opinion, as well as court decisions, had begun to turn in labor’s favor, first in the twenties for the right to assemble and then during the Depression for the right to organize. Congress restricted the use of injunctions to stop labor meetings; in successive decisions in 1938 and 1939 the Supreme Court interpreted the First Amendment as making streets and parks a “public forum” that protected peaceful picketing. A bitter rivalry marred labor’s coming into its own when eight unions in the AFL withdrew to protest its indifference to organizing unskilled workers in mass production industries.
Transaction Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream by Nicholas Lemann
Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airline deregulation, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Black-Scholes formula, buy and hold, capital controls, computerized trading, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, fixed income, future of work, George Akerlof, gig economy, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, index fund, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Irwin Jacobs, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, means of production, Metcalfe’s law, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Myron Scholes, new economy, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ralph Nader, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, universal basic income, War on Poverty, white flight, working poor
When the war ended, demand for automobiles soared, and the end of price controls set off a large increase in inflation; GM was eager to sell cars, and the UAW members were afraid that inflation would make their incomes fall while the company’s profits increased. In the winter of 1945–46, Walter Reuther, the president of the union, led its GM workers on one of the longest, largest strikes in American history—113 days, more than three hundred thousand workers—and wound up getting them a 17.5 percent wage increase. GM’s executives and the UAW leadership had spent the past decade in an atmosphere of maximum conflict, locally between labor and management and globally between the United States and totalitarian political systems. Both sides were inclined to see their negotiations as having very high stakes. During the strike, Sloan and Wilson issued a joint statement that asked, “Is America to continue as a democratic nation, based on free competition, with Government the servant of the people—or is it to become a Socialistic nation with all activities controlled and regimented, and with the people the servants of Government?”
Corporations like these were operating all over the country, but the Upper Midwest felt like the unofficial home region of the corporation-dominated institutional order. It was where the cars were made and the steel was milled, where unions were strongest, where the white-collar managerial culture felt most culturally dominant. If you were going to be an auto dealer, you could be anywhere, but there was a centrality, a perfectness of fit for dealers in the Midwest that no other place could quite match in those days. A leading example would be the Spitzer family, in northeast Ohio. One day early in the second decade of the twentieth century Henry Ford was riding a train from New York to Detroit. The train stopped in the small town of Grafton, Ohio, twenty-five miles west of Cleveland, to take on water. Ford—who believed that the sort of country towns that the automobile was beginning to make obsolete were the repository of national virtue—got out, walked around, and decided he liked the look of the place.
He advised Adlai Stevenson, the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956, and Nelson Rockefeller, the governor of New York in the 1960s and the leader of the liberal wing of the Republican Party. Adolf constantly contributed articles to prominent newspapers and magazines, gave lectures all over the country, and was often cited in books, law review articles, and judicial decisions. He served briefly as an adviser on Latin American policy to President John F. Kennedy. If there was an obvious way in which Berle’s views were becoming out of date as he aged, it was on foreign policy. He didn’t see any problem with the United States exerting its power maximally everywhere, and he had trouble perceiving the aspirations of left-wing movements around the world as anything but attempts by the Soviet Union to extend its influence. He supported the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, which tried to depose Fidel Castro in his early years in power; the United States’ military invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 to help the regime there put down a rebellion; and the Vietnam War.
Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss
anti-communist, British Empire, California gold rush, Charles Lindbergh, continuation of politics by other means, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, Donald Trump, full employment, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, long peace, Monroe Doctrine, New Journalism, Ronald Reagan, traveling salesman, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration
Knowing that, under existing rules, an incumbent President had great power to bend the party to his will, he assured allies that he had the nomination locked up: “Somebody may try, but they can’t take it away. I’ve got my votes already.” He implored the Indiana Governor Roger Branigin, who was running in his state’s primary as a Johnson stand-in, “Let’s don’t have a damn New Hampshire thing….Just let us know what you need now….We’ll go right after them, hammer and tong.” Johnson reminded Walter Reuther, the United Auto Workers chief, that “when you’ve got your back to the wall,” he came to Reuther’s aid, and pooh-poohed McCarthy and Kennedy: These boys can’t get this nomination….They’ll win some primaries because I don’t have much time to make calls like this….I’m no Goddamn fascist. I’m trying to settle this thing….Anybody can get a Chamberlain peace for thirty days—I could do that….But it just moves right into Thailand, Laos and Cambodia immediately….Roosevelt couldn’t end the war with Hitler, by God, just on a chosen day, and I can’t end it either….I’ve been fighting it out there for four long years, without involving Russia and China—and that’s some little feat in itself—and without invading North Vietnam or Cambodia….If I was bloodthirsty and went in and took Hanoi and Haiphong and just flattened ’em out, I think we could bring North Vietnam to their knees pretty damn quick….Stand up and bear with me….Walter, I want to depend on you.
Treat them liberally all round. We want those people to return to their allegiance to the Union and submit to the laws.” During their visit, Grant asked the President whether he had ever doubted the “final success” of the Union, and Lincoln replied, “Never for a moment.” When he learned that Union soldiers were marching into Richmond, he said, “Thank God that I have lived to see this!…I have been dreaming a horrid dream for four years, and now the nightmare is gone.” On the sunny spring morning of April 4, wearing his stovepipe hat, Lincoln, along with Tad and Admiral David Porter, toured vanquished Richmond, where Confederates had set fires as they ran away. Throwing their caps into the air, African American laborers cried, “There is the great messiah!” and dropped to kiss Lincoln’s feet. “Don’t kneel to me,” he told them.
.*12 McKinley’s new muscularity outraged members of the Anti-Imperialist League, created after the start of the Spanish-American War to uphold the principles of nonintervention and consent of the governed appearing in the Declaration of Independence, President Washington’s Farewell Address, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Its leaders included Mark Twain, the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, and Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor. Many of its members complained that the idealistic volunteers who had signed up to fight in Cuba were now being compelled to wage McKinley’s more ignoble war against Filipino insurgents. During a League rally at New York’s Cooper Union in May, ex-Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri, a Union General during the Civil War and McKinley’s onetime friend, exclaimed that during the conflict with Spain, the United States had let the Filipinos “believe that in fighting on the same side with us, they were fighting for their own independence.”
Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey
Airbnb, Akira Okazaki, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, British Empire, business cycle, buy low sell high, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, Costa Concordia, creative destruction, crony capitalism, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental economics, Ferguson, Missouri, fundamental attribution error, Georg Cantor, George Akerlof, George Gilder, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, God and Mammon, greed is good, Gunnar Myrdal, Hans Rosling, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, Hernando de Soto, immigration reform, income inequality, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Harrison: Longitude, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, lake wobegon effect, land reform, liberation theology, lone genius, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, means of production, Naomi Klein, new economy, North Sea oil, Occupy movement, open economy, out of africa, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Pax Mongolica, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Peter Singer: altruism, Philip Mirowski, pink-collar, plutocrats, Plutocrats, positional goods, profit maximization, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, refrigerator car, rent control, rent-seeking, Republic of Letters, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Simon Kuznets, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, spinning jenny, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Market for Lemons, the rule of 72, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, total factor productivity, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, union organizing, very high income, wage slave, Washington Consensus, working poor, Yogi Berra
Robert Reich, a reliable source of sweetly leftish errors of facts and ethics, declares that “the decline in unionization [of private companies] directly correlates with the decline of the portion of income going to the middle class.”6 But paying selected workers on the auto assembly line more than they can earn elsewhere, at the expense of other, sometimes poorer, workers buying autos, is hardly a formula for raising up the working class, or for that matter the middle class. Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers long ago, replied to a young manager enthusiastic about robots on the assembly line, “Tell me, those wonderful new robots—will they go out and buy cars from your company?” Reuther’s, and Reich’s, argument, though well intentioned, is fallacious, the “productionist” fallacy: trickle up. Employees of the auto companies are a trivial share of the auto-buying public. You can’t create prosperity merely by buying from your own employer, hoisting yourself up by your bootstraps.
Unusual profit awaits anyone at any time in history, such as “Yond Cassius [with] a lean and hungry look. / He thinks too much,” who finds the ideas first and is courageous enough to invest in them—Mark Zuckerberg (and roommates) find Facebook, Henry Ford finds cheap cars, Andrew Carnegie finds cheap steel. As Luigi Einaudi wrote in 1943, summarizing the analysis in 1730–1734 of the Irish/French Richard Cantillon of the word “entrepreneur,” what distinguishes the imprenditore, the entrepreneur, is not possessing and accumulating capital at a fixed interest rate, but “assuming the risk of acquiring the factors of production [such as land and labor and capital itself] at the price on the market . . . and of selling their product at an uncertain price.”5 Buy ideas low and hope that you can sell them high. It is different from clipping coupons or purchasing Congress, and has been understood to be so since 1730.
We must carry out what seems justified in the Socialist program and can be realized within the present framework of state and society.”20 A modern case is South Africa, in which high wages for trade unionists are protected by a high, state-enforced minimum wage and the state-enforced impossibility of dismissing anyone once they have somehow got a job. The system discourages substitution of the pool of cheap and now unemployed labor for unionized and now employed labor, which secures for the government the affection of the unions. The South African union of unions, COSATU, though frankly communist (though with an honorable history fighting apartheid), has for example opposed a scheme for the government to subsidize employment for youths. The resulting high unemployment (officially 25 percent, 70 percent for youths) is assuaged by small income subsidies to those without jobs sitting in huts in the backcountry of the East Cape or KwaZulu-Natal.
The Atlantic and Its Enemies: A History of the Cold War by Norman Stone
affirmative action, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, central bank independence, Deng Xiaoping, desegregation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, European colonialism, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gunnar Myrdal, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, illegal immigration, income per capita, interchangeable parts, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, labour mobility, land reform, long peace, mass immigration, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mitch Kapor, new economy, Norman Mailer, North Sea oil, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, popular capitalism, price mechanism, price stability, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, special drawing rights, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, V2 rocket, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, Yom Kippur War, éminence grise
Now, the old Second World War associations came alive again: Eisenhower, Montgomery, the French all knew each other well, and they co-operated again. Here was the start of NATO, and of much else, as Atlantic ties multiplied and thickened. Trade unions co-operated in a free association. The American trade unions (the AFL, or American Federation of Labor, had merged in 1946 with the CIO, or Congress of Industrial Organizations) were now strongly antiCommunist (their leader, Walter Reuther, having worked for two years at a Ford plant in Nizhny Novgorod, and thus knowing his Soviet circumstances) and the Western trade unions set up an organization of their own, challenging the older international one, which the Communists had taken over. There were generous provisions for cross-Atlantic student exchanges and scholarships, particularly with Britain, so that the elites could get to know each other, or even that foreign students in the United States would go back to their own countries and teach the natives how to do things.
It had quite long origins: even in the 1830s, Stendhal, for instance, has throw-away and dismissive lines about American business and dollar worship, and the Teamsters, a famous union mainly on the docks, took their name from the mule-drivers of yore. In the 1850s Sam Colt was able to assemble a first-class gun in thousands, because he made each part the same, to within a thirty-second of an inch to start with, and then a five-hundredth, so that they were interchangeable, and Linus Yale, of locks fame, goes back to that period. Machines were soon made with interchangeable parts, and the tools that produced these became an American specialty, keeping British war industries going in both of the world wars. Henry Ford famously transferred this to motor cars that were therefore cheap. Various explanations have been offered: unskilled immigrant labour, needing to be given simple and repetitive tasks within their capacity; expensive labour, putting pressure on firms to diminish their costs by use of machinery; practical education, such as was plentifully on offer; the peculiarly classless atmosphere in the USA, where ordinary workmen would co-operate on friendly terms with an owner when it came to reporting faults and taking an interest in machines, whereas elsewhere workmen regarded them as an enemy and in Britain were notoriously reluctant to accept them, because they would be tended by fewer workmen and might depress wage rates.
The Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, was an old trade unionist, whose ways ran very counter to those of the old imperial Foreign Office, but he inspired much loyalty and admiration. Though born illegitimate, and lacking schooling, he was literate (using phrases such as ‘with alacrity’) because, like so many of his class at the time, he could and would make use of the after-hours workers’ education libraries and self-help mechanisms without embarrassment. He was an astute trade union leader, and that gave him some insight into the ways of Communists, who would exploit an industrial crisis for their own political ends rather than for the workers’ own good. Bevin ran his machine well at the Foreign Office, and he needed to, because his in-tray was a very gloomy one. Was Great Britain bulldog or bullfrog, ran one question. After 1945 the Western empires fell apart. The Japanese had already broken their prestige, the ‘charisma’ that had kept, say, British India going.
Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters: From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima by James Mahaffey
clean water, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Google Earth, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, loose coupling, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, uranium enrichment, wage slave, wikimedia commons
The plant would be named Fermi 1, in honor of the man whose name, along with Leó Szilard’s, was on the patent for the original nuclear reactor. Ground was broken at Lagoona Beach in 1956, after Cisler had secured $5 million in equipment and design work from the AEC and a $50 million commitment from Detroit Edison. It would be a long crawl to implementation of Cisler’s plan, fraught with ballooning costs, many engineering novelties, and strong opposition to the project by Walter Reuther. Reuther was an interesting fellow. A card-carrying Socialist Party member, anti-Stalinist, and a fine tool & die machinist, he became a United Auto Workers organizer/hell-raiser and was attacked by a phalanx of Ford Motor Company security personnel in the “Battle of the Overpass” in 1937. This, at the very least, made him a well-known figure in Detroit.145 Reuther, the UAW, and eventually the AFL-CIO filed suit after suit opposed to the building permit for the plant and later the operating license, based on multiple safety concerns and the fact that it was not an automobile.
By 1969, evidence of the Hallum reactor was erased from the prairie, but the Hallum-type pump remains as a credible means of moving liquid sodium. 145 Walter worked as a “wage slave” at the Ford Motor Company starting in 1927. Henry Ford sent him to Nizhny, Novgorod, Soviet Union to help build a tractor factory, but he became overly interested in the proletarian industrial democracy, and Ford fired him in 1932. After working for a few years at an auto plant in Gorky, Reuther returned to the U.S. and became a very active member of the UAW. On May 26, 1937, at 2:00 P.M., he and Richard Frankensteen were in the middle of a leaflet campaign (“Unionism, Not Fordism”) and they were asked by a news photographer to pose on the pedestrian overpass in front of the Ford sign. Ford’s modest army of about 40 security specialists walked into the frame from the left and proceeded to discipline the uninvited visitors. The Dearborn police stood out of range and shouted advice while the union men were beaten, kicked, dragged by the feet, slammed down on the concrete, and thrown down two flights of steps.
They were still considered to be radiologically unapproachable, and to examine them closely you had to use binoculars. A fellow who had worked on the project damned HTRE-3 with faint praise, saying “It was so powerful, it could practically lift its own weight off the ground.” Today, the two engines are tourist traps. You can go up and take a picture of your kids pointing into the exhaust nozzles. They are in the parking lot of the EBR-I, which is a National Historic Landmark, opened for touring between Memorial Day and Labor Day. 101 There is a bit of confusion here. The NRTS records show that the HTRE-3 operated between September 1959 and December 1960, but this account is taken from Summary Report of HTRE no. 3 Nuclear Excursion. APEX-509, and it places the accident in 1958. This type of event was usually classified SECRET, and the operating schedule may have been distorted to hide it. 102 I’m not sure there was anywhere to eat near the test stand, so they probably brought lunch with them or had it trucked in.
Saving America's Cities: Ed Logue and the Struggle to Renew Urban America in the Suburban Age by Lizabeth Cohen
activist lawyer, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, car-free, charter city, deindustrialization, desegregation, Edward Glaeser, garden city movement, ghettoisation, Henry Ford's grandson gave labor union leader Walter Reuther a tour of the company’s new, automated factory…, hiring and firing, housing crisis, income inequality, indoor plumbing, Jane Jacobs, land reform, megastructure, new economy, New Urbanism, Peter Eisenman, postindustrial economy, race to the bottom, rent control, Robert Gordon, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, union organizing, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Victor Gruen, Vilfredo Pareto, walkable city, War on Poverty, white flight, white picket fence, young professional
In a letter to Chester Bowles in 1957, he reaffirmed what they had both learned in India about how social change and infrastructural improvement were entangled: “In the North, race relations and slums and blight are interwoven in such a way as to convince me that the only real hope of a solid, sustained improvement in race relations lies in an imaginative and vigorous urban renewal program.” He went on to complain that labor unions could do so much more to advance both goals—and improve their image—by investing pension funds in building decent, integrated, moderate-cost housing, an idea he had floated to Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers several years earlier.72 Logue seemed not to recognize, however, that the effectiveness of his racial agenda was seriously compromised by the infrastructural choices the renewers had made to replace slums with less densely populated, modernist alternatives like the Florence Virtue Homes in Dixwell.
They argue that municipal financiers had a more ambitious agenda than simply bringing New York back from the brink of what was undeniably a looming fiscal catastrophe that threatened to bankrupt the largest American city and wreak damage far beyond its borders. Rather, this analysis goes, they used the leverage of their lending and bonding powers to force New York City and New York State to radically reorient themselves from liberal, social democratic public policies to more neoliberal ones. In demanding an austerity budget that scaled back labor union commitments and social welfare services, including the UDC’s ambitious housing program, banking and business leaders sought to fundamentally restructure the behavior of elected officials and the expectations of the public about what government could and should deliver. As the CEO of the New York Telephone Company bluntly put it, “To balance the budget, to restore the confidence of the financial community whose resources we need in order to survive, to guarantee the survival of New York City there is an urgent need to alter the traditional view of what city government can and should do.
Quote from Logue, Elkin interview, 2. On Logue’s support of the union cause while a student, see letter to the editor, Yale Daily News, November 4, 1941. At a debate at the Yale Political Union, “Laborite” Logue defended the resolution “Resolved, That Yale C.I.O. employees should have a union shop”; “Moderates Pull Coup; P.U. Upholds ‘Protective Shop,’” Yale Daily News, November 27, 1941. 14. Ellen Logue, interview. 15. MLogue, interview. 16. On Logue’s work as a labor organizer, see YULocal35, Boxes 1 and 3, including Logue to A. D. Lewis, September 8, 1948, Box 1, Folder 3; Elkin, “Labor and the Left,” 48–228; Logue, Elkin interview, 16–18. For conditions of Yale workers, see George Butler, “Yale Needs the C.I.O.,” Nation 146, no. 3 (January 15, 1938): 67–68. On labor in New Haven more broadly, see Frank E.