Bailout Watch 263: No Wedge Left Behind

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
bailout watch 263 no wedge left behind

We’ve been keeping tabs on all the divisive, emotionally-charged wedges being driven through the the bailout debate, and frankly we’re beginning to wonder where it will end. Luckily we may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and as usual with these things, it’s some good old reductio ad absurdum. Randi Payton of On Wheels Inc, which publishes magazines and produces Web sites about the auto industry for ethnic minorities, wonders aloud in Automotive News [sub] whether we are “turning our backs on diversity.” After all, as Payton puts it, “we cannot overlook the more important fact that the Detroit automakers are also some of the most socially responsible corporations in the world.” And the key to his argument is the claim that the Detroit 3 “led the embracing of diversity, employing more minorities than any other entity, next to the federal government.” Now I certainly wouldn’t dispute Payton’s point that “Ford Motor Co. was the first corporation in America to pay fair wages to blacks, essentially creating an African-American middle class,” but to do justice to the term “diversity” we will have to take a closer look at Ford’s history than that. While Henry Ford opened groundbreaking opportunities for African-Americans, his anti-Semitism pretty much knew no bounds. Time for a definition check on the term “diversity?” Better yet, let’s not justify the bailout of failing businesses on ancient history. Or the most divisive issues we can possibly think up.

Join the conversation
4 of 31 comments
  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Dec 08, 2008
    The difference between Compton and Beverly Hills or between the poorer parts of the Bronx or Brooklyn and the Upper West Side of Manhattan are far more dramatic than between Detroit’s east side and Grosse Pointe or Bloomfield Hills. Yes, but all of LA is not Compton and Beverly Hills, and all of New York is not Harlem and Manhattan. Every city has it's slums and palaces, but Detroit has the (mis)fortune of having a greater depth of poverty than many, and less gentrification than most. Detroit is way, way down the median income list, especially compared to cities of the same size, ranking just head of New Orleans. That's not good company, and a very good reason for level of strife it sees.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Dec 08, 2008
    his anti-Semitism pretty much knew no bounds. Henry Ford was an anti-semite but it's an exaggeration to say that his antipathy towards Jews "knew no bounds". As mentioned, he was friendly with Rabbi Leo Franklin who lived the same Boston-Edison neighborhood as Ford did. The story about the returned Model T is true, but Ford gave all the clergy who lived near him free cars. Ford also hired Albert Kahn, the noted architect, to design many of his factories including the Highland Park Model T plant and the Rouge complex. After the Dearborn Independent started publishing The International Jew, Kahn expressed his displeasure by refusing to meet with Ford ever again. I believe that from that point on, Kahn dealt with Edsel, who was a decent man and rather mortified by his father's bigotry. Henry Ford was a genius. He was also whacked out. He had many eccentricities. Greenfield Village grew out of Henry and Clara's obsessive hoarding. The basement of Fairlane was said to be stuffed to the gills with, well, the kind of things you find in OCD hoarders' homes, because he wouldn't let the staff throw anything away. As mentioned, Ford spied on his employees with the Sociological Dept. and Harry Bennett's thugs, to make sure they were sober and chaste. Meanwhile he'd putter up the Rouge in Clara's electric powered boat, docking at a secret staircase in the mansion he had built for a young FoMoCo stenographer, who had a sham marriage to one of Henry's flunkies. Later, he'd have his mistress' son play with Edsel's kids. Clara tolerated it, perhaps because she was of the same generation as English ladies who were taught to lie there and think of England.
  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Dec 08, 2008
    That’s not good company, and a very good reason for level of strife it sees. Strife? Give me an example of recent racial "strife" in the Detroit area. For any incident you may cite, I'm sure I can find an equivalent example in NY, LA, Chicago or even Toronto.
  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Dec 09, 2008

    Psar, The biggest problem areas when it comes to disparity are the ones run by economically liberal administrations for decades. They also, almost all have income taxes rather than depending on property and sales taxes. If Michigan and Detroit democrats are so concerned about disparity, they sure haven't done anything about it.