There was a huge picturesqueness to those pursuers of fortune. They had about them something of the tang and flavor of piracy. The stuff from which men are made heroic was not altogether lacking in them. Big things were done and the doers became big in the doing. When we measuree the paths through which we have come this was as it should have been.
Heraldry is gone. The sturdy trek behind the covered wagon is no more. Business has become the last great heroism. In its beginnings the automobile business was as were - and will be - the beginnings of all business…a conflict of the hard-muscled and strong-willed, for only they survive….Business is business, and not the saving of the soul nor the redemption of the body politic.
General Motors was orginally called International Motors. It was formed in 1908 by the genius huckster capitalist, William Durant. It almost included Ford Motor Company, but for a disagreement over cash transfers, so it began life as a merger of Cadillac, Oakland, Oldsmobile and Buick.
By 1917, GM had 20 more automobile companies, along with electrical producers, lamp companies, rim and wheel companies and other subsidiaries and a credit arm, GMAC, which was added in 1917. Durant lost control of GM in 1911, but won it back in 1916 in what amounted to a hostile takeover with Chevrolet Motor Cars as the truncheon, which almost ended up as the parent of GM. The authors of Men, Money and Motors lamented, in 1929, that there were fewer than fifty auto manufacturers in the US.
GM's tumble from 1929 to today's market irrelevance and government parasitism didn't follow a straight line, but its angle downward became acute in the 1970's, when (it's said) the company was taken over by money men. It was, after all, Roger Smith who provided the opportunity for Michael Moore to make his place in documentary history. Roger Smith was an idiot, but that's not important now.
There was, in my view, a change in the idea of competition itself. The money men at GM seemed to believe that perception of value, rather than genuine product superiority, could be achieved by trickery and packaging rather than through the objective realities of superior engineering. For years they produced junk that was dressed up to look like their fierce competitors, the Euro and Japanese models, and gave them ridiculous names that sounded like adjectives, or names like Euro Sport, which with its quality, begged to be forever known as the Chevrolet Urine Spot. Today? Well, you know what's going on today.
The horrifying lesson for conservatives is that Big Business has the same dessicating effect as Big Government. It turns everything to dust. It spurns roughneck talent and squelches disorganized energy for the squirming discomfort they inflict on the suits at Mahogany Row. Every capitalist bureaucrat is essentially a statist. This is why it was so easy for the auto clods and the bankers to merge their interests with the Obama Administration. Or why Cap/Trade and ObamaCare is so popular with GE and others. Corporatism is where the money is, this time around.