Channeling Henry Ford


Every one knows about Henry Ford’s genius in creating the assembly line. In 1914 the world’s first automated conveyer belt could make a new car every 93 minutes.

But more than cars were being made in Henry Ford’s factories. The strongest middle class the world has ever known was born in Henry Ford’s factories. Some historians credit Ford with the creation of the modern day middle class.

In 1914 Ford more than doubled the wages of his workers, from $2.34 to $5.00 a day and lowering that work day from 9 hours to 8 hours.

Some say he did this so that people could afford to buy his cars. Some say he did it to lower the high absenteeism and the high costs of hiring and training due to the high turnover rate at his assembly lines. Seems it was rather boring doing the same repetitive job all day long.

No matter what his motives were the results were the same: a stable work force and the start of a stable middle class that lasted for three plus decades.

And Ford freely admitted he wanted to pay these wages so that his business, “….would be on a lasting foundation.” Ford said, “A low wage business is always insecure.”

Some people called him a humanitarian. But Ford’s innovations were not met with universal acclaim. Many in the business and capitalist sector called him a traitor to his class and, “a mad socialist.”

He was neither.

What Ford understood, or learned,  was that he could increase his own personal wealth and the wealth of his company by increasing the flow of cash to his workers who had desires and needs of their own that needed to be fulfilled. And yes, his workers could also afford to buy his cars.

But they could also afford a mortgage, food, clothes, appliances for their homes, and other goods and services.

The lesson we can take from that today during The Great Recession is that capitalists and workers BOTH benefit from a stable and well paid work force. And the country and the economy as a whole are enriched as well.

Washington could learn a lot by going back to school and studying the history of  Henry Ford and his Motor Company.

It does not bode well for America when what used to be the most stable middle class in the world no longer has a stable income;  does not have enough money to pay their mortgage, and does not have enough money to put food on the table. It does not bode well when too many have to work two or three $7.50 an hour part-time jobs to make ends barely meet.

Today we need real jobs…….manufacturing type jobs.

“Manufacturing” financial instruments, or speculation,  for the purpose of letting banks and financiers gamble with other people’s money is not going to fix the massive unemployment problem in America today. Taxing the middle class to pay off the gambling debts of the financial class is also not going to put Americans back to work either.

The middle class needs and wants stable and well paying jobs. The middle class needs to be beefed up again by increasing the flow of cash to the middle class, ala Henry Ford. And Washington should stop blaming the middle class for the nation’s problems too. Playing the blame game does not help solve anything.

Even more troubling, new polls show that Americans do not trust anyone in Washington and that trust in Washington in general is at all time low levels.

Right now I am channeling the ghost of Henry Ford hoping and praying that soon Washington wakes up and learns the lessons of the past and that Henry Ford learned nearly a century ago.


Henry Ford, by Lee Iococca

Henry Ford and the Rise of the U.S. Middle Class , Re-Imanging Economics

A century after Henry Ford, middle class does less to drive economy, NYT, David Leonhardt

Working class needs a rebooting, Harold Meyerson, Washington Post,

Featured Recipe    Tortellini Soup with Garden Vegetables

 It has turned unseasonably cool here the last few days. Cool enough for some soup. Nothing warms like a bowl of hot soup on a cold and gloomy day. Some good hot chicken broth is almost as good as sunshine.

I love this recipe because it is surprisingly very tasty for canned broth and for such a short cooking time. And never have 1 stalk of celery and 1 carrot gone so far.

And if you don’t over sauté the carrots and celery, they will be nice and crunchy when you eat the soup.

I also like it because you can easily make this on your busiest week night as it only takes about 30-40 minutes from start to finish.

This soup goes very well with the Tri-Color Pasta Salad I shared last week. It is also good by itself served with a salad and some crusty bread and butter.

This is what you will need for 4 people:

1 stalk of celery

1 medium carrot

2 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons butter

3 cans chicken broth

8 ounce package cheese tortellini

1 cup frozen peas

3 green onions

Salt & pepper to taste

Optional: Parmesan cheese

NOTE: If I have left over mushrooms in the fridge I slice a couple and add them to the broth along with the peas. The soup always looks so pretty, elegant even, with the addition of a few mushroom slices. But alas I did not have any in the fridge today.

Here is what you do:

Clean vegetables and peel the carrot.

Dice the celery and the carrots.  Also slice the green onions and reserve for garnish.

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the celery, carrot,  and a pinch of salt and sauté.

Peel the garlic and using  a press add the pressed garlic to the pan, stir and sauté the veggies till tender about 5-7 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil, that is until you just see bubbles forming in the broth.

Then add the tortellini and cook for 3 minutes.

Reduce the heat and stir in the peas. (And the mushrooms if you have any and are using. You will only need 2 or 3 mushrooms.)

Simmer until the tortellini is cooked, another 3-5 minutes.

Check for seasonings. Add more salt if necessary and the pepper if you are using.

Portion the soup into warm bowls, add some green onion slices and sprinkle some of the cheese on top if using.

Serve with a salad and some crusty buttered bread.

Bon appétit!!!


1 stalk of celery                                $0.16

1 medium carrot                               $0.13

2 cloves garlic                                   $0.10

2 tablespoons butter                          $0.26

3 cans chicken broth                          $1.50

8 ounce pck cheese tortellini               $3.88

1 cup frozen peas                              $1.00

3 green onions                                   $0.15

Salt & pepper to taste

Optional: Parmesan cheese               $0.24

Total cost = $6.42
Cost per person = $1.60

Quote of the Day … .. from Henry Ford, of course!

Speculation is only a word covering the making of money out of the manipulation of prices, instead of supplying goods and services.

Henry Ford


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