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My Life and Work by Henry Ford

My Life and Work by Henry Ford


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Published by: nitin_s_chauhan5239 on Jul 31, 2009
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The employer has to live by the year. The workman has to live by the year. But both of them, as a rule, work
by the week. They get an order or a job when they can and at the price they can. During what is called a
prosperous time, orders and jobs are plentiful. During a “dull" season they are scarce. Business is always
either feasting or fasting and is always either “good” or “bad.” Although there is never a time when everyone
has too much of this world's goods—when everyone is too comfortable or too happy—there come periods
when we have the astounding spectacle of a world hungry for goods and an industrial machine hungry for
work and the two—the demand and the means of satisfying it—held apart by a money barrier. Both
manufacturing and employment are in−and−out affairs. Instead of a steady progression we go ahead by fits
and starts—now going too fast, now stopping altogether. When a great many people want to buy, there is said
to be a shortage of goods. When nobody wants to buy, there is said to be an overproduction of goods. I know
that we have always had a shortage of goods, but I do not believe we have ever had an overproduction. We
may have, at a particular time, too much of the wrong kind of goods. That is not overproduction—that is
merely headless production. We may also have great stocks of goods at too high prices. That is not
overproduction—it is either bad manufacturing or bad financing. Is business good or bad according to the
dictates of fate? Must we accept the conditions as inevitable? Business is good or bad as we make it so. The
only reason for growing crops, for mining, or for manufacturing, is that people may eat, keep warm, have
clothing to wear, and articles to use. There is no other possible reason, yet that reason is forced into the
background and instead we have operations carried on, not to the end of service, but to the end of making
money—and this because we have evolved a system of money that instead of being a convenient medium of
exchange, is at times a barrier to exchange. Of this more later.

We suffer frequent periods of so−called bad luck only because we manage so badly. If we had a vast crop
failure, I can imagine the country going hungry, but I cannot conceive how it is that we tolerate hunger and
poverty, when they grow solely out of bad management, and especially out of the bad management that is
implicit in an unreasoned financial structure. Of course the war upset affairs in this country. It upset the whole
world. There would have been no war had management been better. But the war alone is not to blame. The
war showed up a great number of the defects of the financial system, but more than anything else it showed
how insecure is business supported only by a money foundation. I do not know whether bad business is the
result of bad financial methods or whether the wrong motive in business created bad financial methods, but I
do know that, while it would be wholly undesirable to try to overturn the present financial system, it is wholly
desirable to reshape business on the basis of service. Then a better financial system will have to come. The
present system will drop out because it will have no reason for being. The process will have to be a gradual

The start toward the stabilization of his own affairs may be made by any one. One cannot achieve perfect
results acting alone, but as the example begins to sink in there will be followers, and thus in the course of time
we can hope to put inflated business and its fellow, depressed business, into a class with small−pox—that is,
into the class of preventable diseases. It is perfectly possible, with the reorganization of business and finance
that is bound to come about, to take the ill effect of seasons, if not the seasons, out of industry, and also the
periodic depressions. Farming is already in process of reorganization. When industry and farming are fully
reorganized they will be complementary; they belong together, not apart. As an indication, take our valve
plant. We established it eighteen miles out in the country so that the workers could also be farmers. By the use
of machinery farming need not consume more than a fraction of the time it now consumes; the time nature
requires to produce is much larger than that required for the human contribution of seeding, cultivating, and

My Life and Work

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