The CEO of Ford actually said, “We have made big mistakes, but we’re really focused now.”
If the Big Three auto makers don’t get their bailout, and that includes in Canada, thousands of jobs will be lost, not only directly but indirectly. So, unfortunately, there is no other choice but to bail them out.
Someone once asked me who, in my opinion, was the most dangerous man who ever lived, and without even thinking about it very much, I said, “Henry Ford”. He revolutionized the world, but not necessarily in a good way. He changed the way cars were mass-produced and mass-marketed, but I wonder if he ever realized that he would also affect city planning, urban planning and even architecture. Drive through any suburban neighborhood in Canada, and most homes are just huge garages with houses attached.
Ford created a massive publicity machine in Detroit to ensure every newspaper carried stories and ads about the new product. Ford's network of local dealers made the car ubiquitous in virtually every city in North America. As independent dealers, the franchises grew rich and publicized not just the Ford but the very concept of automobiling; local motor clubs sprang up to help new drivers and to explore the countryside. Ford was always eager to sell to farmers, who looked on the vehicle as a commercial device to help their business. Sales skyrocketed—several years posted 100% gains on the previous year. Always on the hunt for more efficiency and lower costs, in 1913 Ford introduced the moving assembly belts into his plants, which enabled an enormous increase in production.
In Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, society is organized on 'Fordist' lines and the years are dated A.F. (After Ford). In the book, the expression 'My Ford' is used instead of 'My Lord'. Even human beings are produced via an assembly line, grown in large glass jars and provided in five models: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon. As homage to the assembly line philosophy that so defined the mass-culture society of Brave New World, native individuals make the "sign of the T" instead of the "sign of the cross."
In the early 1950s the wonderful, charming streetcar systems in cities throughout North America were ripped out and replaced by buses and cars. Streetcars were efficient, quiet and clean, and I think there must have been something romantic about them, don’t you? And because of automobiles’ popularity, construction of urban freeways for the new Interstate Highway System, which began in the late 1950s, led to the demolition of thousands of city blocks, and the dislocation of many more thousands of people. This led to the death of the inner-city, more urban sprawl, and people living in more and more remote areas, separate and apart from other members of their communities. Ironically, the first long-distance intercity freeway was the Queen Elizabeth Way in Ontario, linking the cities of Toronto and Hamilton, and this was built in 1939. Freeways were built without any consideration to noise or environmental factors. They were built for one purpose, the car.
Unfortunately, cars are necessary. I really cannot imagine a world without them. But, if the Big Three need bailing out now, perhaps it’s time for them to re-think automobiles, their use, their purpose and their impact on the world from a slightly different perspective than their current design and marketing. Get rid of the gas guzzling SUVs, and start making fuel efficient, evironmentally friendly cars.