Why did Henry Ford pay his workers so well?
In practical terms, high wages would allow his employees to purchase his goods. In philosophical terms, he thought that consumerism could help bring world peace.
Henry Ford (1863-1947) was an industrialist who developed the concepts of the automobile and the assembly line and was able to combine the two, resulting in a much lower cost of production of the automobile. He also was a proponent of paying high wages. In sum, he sought to put what had been expensive and hard-to-obtain goods into the reach of every home.
Before Ford, automobiles were an expensive curiosity. Horse and buggies were the workhorse in the realm of transportation and shipping.
Ford knew that in order for people to want to buy automobiles, he had to do two things:
- reduce the cost of production so that they were relatively inexpensive (achieved via the assembly line), and
- make sure he paid his employees well enough so that they could buy one (achieved by actually paying his employees well)
Ford's vision was that this type of manufacturing should be adopted across all types of goods so that the conveniences of the time, such as sewing machines, refrigerators, washing machines, and more, could be in everyone's home. He thought that through this model, the world could be a more peaceful place.