Ford Motor Co. is Dying
In 1986 Ford was, as always, solidly behind GM as the number two automaker in the US, two generations of Americans living with the everyday fact for 40 years, the descendants of demi-god Henry Ford enshrined and caring for a critical icon of America. 1986 was the year Toyota opened its first plant in the US.
Here we are just 20 years later and this year Ford will give up it’s number 2 slot to Toyota. It’s not as if Ford is healthy and Toyota edged over in a growing market, not at all: last week Ford announced 44,000 white and blue collar job cuts by 2008.
It gave notice to all of its 100,000 blue union collars that as of 2008 they no longer have a job. All of them. Anywhere from a further 10,000—30,000 might not come back after the 2008 contract cycle.
12 plants will close by 2008. 12 devastated communities. 44,000 families shaken to the bone, many of them never recovering, lives of pain and missed potential the prescription for the children, parents helplessly watching.
An old capitalist story—fair enough. Globalization, dude, the weak are swept away by the strongest on the globe for the greatest something for all, global-warming-middle-east addictive machines this time. Okay.
Something similar to this happened in the past, sometime in the 80’s US Steel was replaced on a major stock index (DJIA, I think) by Disney. There was a great deal of railing in the Decline of America, gnashing of teeth and rending of soul over a great loss to the capitalist land of jesus.
Didn’t last very long, and within weeks nobody gave a shit the Koreans and Japanese whupped our steel asses, steel was steel and there were videos to get into. The workers in the industry had their lives ripped apart but Ronald Reagan and the corporate press could care less, so like so much of America it just went into a fade, the hurt of what was gone eased by gradual decline.
But Ford Motor Co.? To fade away so gently into that good night? The originating company of the assembly line? One of the greatest American commercial and production enterprises of all time, crushed to some puny light truck specialty company 5th place in sales and employing just 25,000 by 2015?
It must be, since the market rules and the globe decides, not Americans. Ain’t that some shit.
“First time I ever got laid was in a car like this,” Jason Robards said in Parenthood, stating a line in fiction that is very, very much the reality for many men in the US. We’ve built incredible infrastructure for cars, designed our living space around them, idealized, idolized, and weaved then into the very most intimate fabric of our lives, yet we can’t make them anymore. [And yes, the first time I got laid was in a back seat. General Motors, at least it wasn’t in a Toyota, my dear Ford Motor Co.]
That pretty cursive script surrounded by a blue oval, a twisted tiny remnant of an American past we let slip away. Man.