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Reality Isn’t Optional, Exhibit #79,201,096e28

Prompted by my recent reposting of a 2013 essay of mine on Henry Ford’s January 1914 more-than-doubling of the daily pay of his full-time workers, Chris Hesse sent to me the following e-mail. I share it with his kind permission.

Let’s not pass an opportunity to observe confirmation bias at its best. Those who assert that Henry Ford increased wages so that his employees could afford to purchase his cars use that assertion to justify a mandated minimum wage. Such a person would not usually quote Henry Ford, “robber baron,” as a person to cite in support of employees. For all other purposes, Henry Ford is seen by such people as evil. Would they quote Henry Ford in any other context? No. When the quote fits with a person’s preconceived notion, it is seen as accurate and evidence for their own opinion. This person would normally be skeptical of any quote from such a successful businessman. Ford knew his audience.

As you observed in 2013, his employees, newly trained in assembly line techniques, would be valuable to his competitors. He simply raised wages because it was cheaper to pay more than to obtain and train replacements. For the same reason, we don’t need a federal minimum wage. Any warm body willing to work seems to be able to find a job today, if desired. The fast food industry today has lousy service due to the lack of bodies. More tasks are turned over to the customer (computer kiosk, self-service drinks, wait at the counter for your order). Unfortunately, the job isn’t desired because welfare benefits decrease as pay increases.

An unskilled employee might have been willing to work for Ford for nothing, to obtain skills valuable to Ford’s competitors and other manufacturers who might benefit from assembly line enhancements.

Best regards,
Chris Hesse

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