Ford wisely realized he had to share wealth

Alongside freedom, one of the greatest privileges of living in the United States is the opportunity to parlay hard work into wealth. We still remain the land of opportunity even in challenging times. But once wealth is accumulated, it is incumbent on individual conscience, as well as government policies, what that wealth continues to produce economically.

One case in point was the belief by Henry Ford that he needed to – and more importantly could afford to – triple the hourly wages of his employees, so that they were able to purchase the product they were manufacturing. If we had more thinking like that, we would not have Bill Gates and Warren Buffett imploring fellow billionaires to consider philanthropy to address poverty, as ratios between the wealthiest and the poorest continue to grow. This disparity was at the core of the leaderless “Occupy” movement.

It is with utter disbelief that a recent quote from Mayor Michael Bloomberg regarding billionaires could be said with a straight face: “They’re the ones that spend a lot of money in stores and restaurants, and create a big chunk of our economy.” But if we applied the theory of Ford, and Bloomberg parlayed just $1 billion of his estimated $30 billion in wealth to create jobs, an example could amount to 20,000 jobs paying $50,000 a year. That is 20,000 people dining out, buying televisions, cars and houses – not just one.

Before the howls of “socialism,” this is strictly a math lesson. In the movie, “Wall Street,” Michael Douglas stated, “greed is good.” Well, not economically if good jobs and a strong middle class are a priority.

My Catholic education leaves dozens of lessons woven into my opinions and positions. I recall that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven.”

Even though Ford made a calculated business decision, it was a blessed one for those lucky enough to work for him.

Philip Wilcox