George Walford: Controlling the Market

Lee Iacocca is an ex-President of the Ford Motor Company, one of the largest companies in the world; if, as some of our leftwing friends maintain, the big companies are able to control the market, surely Ford would be able to do so. But Iacocca says they can’t. Whenever he hears this suggested he finds himself wishing: “If only it were true!”

We are not bound to believe everything the representatives of big business tell us, but Iacocca (the name, he says, is pronounced to rhyme with “buy-a-coca”) gives an example which can easily be checked against the record. With their 1956 models Ford offered a package of safety devices including seat-belts, safety door latches, sun visors, crash-pads on the dash-board and a deep-dish steering wheel. That same year Chevrolet promoted flashy style and powerful engines, and they “clobbered” Ford. Ford were not able to manipulate the market to the extent of selling added safety. (Lee Iacocca with Wm. Novak, Iacocca, An Autobiography, Toronto etc. Bantam Books, 1985, pp 312-13).

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When the Sandoz chemical works burned, one danger was that water might contact the sodium stored in drums, in a shed whose roof had been punctured by explosions during the fire. Had water penetrated just one of those drums the resulting explosion would have been “devastating.” Yet the firemen “naturally” soaked this building, among others, with water. (Observer, 16 Nov 86) Let us hope that in future firemen called to chemical fires will be discouraged from following their natural inclinations.

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FRANCIS STEEGMULLER speaks of Sir William Hamilton, Emma, and “the sea-going hypotenuse of their seemingly eternal triangle.” (TLS 3 April 87)

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MARK TWAIN: A German joke is no laughing matter.

from Ideological Commentary 29, September 1987.