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Saturday, July 6, 2019

The1970s: A Lost Decade or a Prelude to Disaster?

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Charlie Wilson (R) at a WWII Automobile Council  Production Board Meeting

OK, so after 6 weeks of drift, I decided on July 5, 2019 that I won't be able to retire. I am back to work and focusing first on previous work I began but did not complete on the automotive history of the 1970s. My argument is that the 1970s was more than simply a lost decade, or one that fostered a new era in American politics, whether it be on the front porch with citizen activism or a reconfigured brand of conservatism. It marked the beginning of the steep decline in the American automobile industry and in American Imperial Power, and that has taken us to the Donald Trump presidency in 2019. That is the topic what we shall explore in the weeks ahead, with the automobile as a focus but with occasional deflections and distractions along the way.

In his Senate confirmation hearing in 1953, Charlie Wilson was supposedly have said: "What’s good for General Motors is good for the country." Actually at one point in the hearings, Sen. Robert Hendrickson (R-NJ) asked him if he could make a decision as secretary of defense that would be detrimental to the interests of General Motors. He said he could, adding [emphasis added]: “for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country.”

Indeed, what Wilson assaying was that the automotive industry and the nation are inextricably connected. And thus when the industry declined, so did the country, or vice-versa in a complex causal soup. And that is what I will be getting at in the next posts!
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