Today and Tomorrow
by Doubleday, Page and Co. 1926. 8vo. viii+ 273 pp. $3.50.. New York:
A COLLABORATED book published under the name of a busy man of affairs is assumed to be a large-scale interview, edited as to its substance by the chief interlocutor. Nevertheless we imagine that there is a good deal of Henry Ford’s style and personality, as well as of his philosophy, in the present volume. Its general theme and outlook are those of its predecessor, My Life and Work, of which it is announced to be a continuation; but it is none the less fresh and original. The autobiographical vein, which was less prominent than the title suggested in the earlier book, is completely dropped in this one, which consistently faces forward, as do most things written by optimists. Naturally it is a progress report of the Ford organization, but on the exemplum docet principle. It is much more than a report, however —it is a stimulating preachment upon how to be prosperous and happy.
From Samuel Smiles to Henry Ford, as eulogists of industrial success, is a very long step, into an entirely new social vision and code of ethics. A German might construct a whole philosophy upon what the difference connotes. No man is in more perfect accord with the dominant note of American life than this Michigan farmer’s son, who has become the largest automobile maker in the world. That is why he can beapopular and unenvied multimillionaire. He is the Henry George of industry. The first Henry had a democratic philosophy of land, conceiving the whole people to be the creators, and therefore the moral owners, of its value; the second Henry applies the same reasoning to manufacturing, conceiving the whole people, as the purchasing public, to be the creators of its values, and therefore to be the ultimate owners of its benefits. He does not therefore believe that you can run business by the ballot. Quite the contrary. His democracy is limited to distribution; he is an autocrat in matters of production. Yet if his theory of wages, prices, and profits were generally accepted the fundament of Das Kapital and Marxian socialism would vanish into thin air. If adopted as a universal rule of business conduct it would abolish economic classes, which are supposed to be incubating the great revolution of the future, as completely as the Ford system of production has abolished trade distinctions among its employees.
‘The right wage is the highest wage the employer can steadily pay. . . . The principle of service requires that profits be measured only by legitimate replacement and expansion. . . . Business does not exist to earn money for the capitalist or for the wage-earner. The narrow capitalist and the narrow trades-unionist have exactly the same view of business — they differ only on who is to have the loot. . . . The benefit belongs to the public. . . . What right has a “personal fortune” to be anything but working capital?’ These and countless other dicta express theories which Henry Ford has applied to his business with a success that gives his opinions a weight beyond those of any doctrinaire.
For those who wish him a continuance of this success it will be cheering to know that the present annual output of two million Ford cars meets ‘only the needs of our present owners if they should each buy a new car every six years’; and it will doubtless be taken as evidence that he is consistently sharing his prosperity with the public that ‘the touring car may be bought at about twenty cents a pound’ or for ‘less per pound than beefsteak.’
VICTOR S. CLARK