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Free enterprise was a lonely winner during our hard-scrabble times nearly two years ago when Ford Motor Company declined any of the $17.4 billion the federal government was giving Detroit, Ford immediately “earned the admiration and appreciation of a frustrated and cash-strapped U.S. consumer base,” as Advertising Age put it in a Dec. 22, 2008, article. When Ford CEO Alan Mulally appeared before congressional lawmakers dealing with the bailout issue, he said, “We are not seeking short-term financial assistance from the government.”
General Motors, on the other hand took $50 billion in bailout money. Shortly thereafter, Obama canned the company’s CEO and hand-picked new members for its board. GM has gone through four CEOs in 18 months and continues to lose market share and profitability.
Mulally and Ford proved to Obama that the President’s amateur efforts as an industrialist aren’t needed for American business and enterprise to prosper. “Ford emerged as the sole American auto-maker ready to survive the steepest sales downturn in decades without a government handout,” as The New York Times wrote.
Twenty-one months later, Ford was rolling out new models that matched the Japanese in quality, expanding its market, decreasing its debt and—importantly—creating jobs. It has 200 markets on six continents. In the worst economy since the Great Depression, Ford has earned a profit for six straight quarters without the benevolent hand of the Obama Administration.
Much of Ford’s success flows from the mind of CEO Mulally, who Fortune Magazine described in a March 2009 article as the Mulally method: a good natured but relentless insistence on following what he determined to be the right course of action.
Like many business executives, Mulally’s “expected behavior,” he has described as fostering functional and technical excellence, having a passion for our business and our customers, showing initiative and integrity, and delivering results.
Simply stated, private enterprise is the economic system that rewards firms for their ability to perceive and serve the needs and demands of consumers. Writing about the private enterprise system, Adam Smith in his 18th century book, The Wealth of Nations, noted that when an individual pursues his self interest, he indirectly promotes the good of society. For capitalism to operate effectively, citizens must be assured of certain rights.
Those who are optimistic that Obama will turn more toward the political center should reflect on these words at his news conference: “I question whether on my part I could have done something different.”
When Obama has spent his presidency over-promising and twisting facts, why should we trust him or believe him now.
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