Detroit was the prime example of what I have called "Big Unit America," in which the heads of large organizations -- Big Business, Big Labor, Big Government -- made the big decisions, and the hundreds of thousands of people below them, small cogs in a very large machine, carried them out.
For a time Big Unit America seemed to work splendidly. The Big Three auto companies, with some cooperation from the United Auto Workers and at the behest of Big Government, made Detroit "the arsenal of democracy." Arthur Herman tells the story in his recent book Freedom's Forge.
The Big Units' prestige continued high for a generation after the war. General Motors's president was Time's Man of the Year in 1955. John Kenneth Galbraith's 1967 book "The New Industrial State" argued that big automakers could manipulate demand through advertising and should share more of their inevitable profits with union members and the government.
James L. Salmon, Esq.
300 Pike Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
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