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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 6, 2007 / 23 Elul, 5767

The Edsel was an important debacle

By George Will


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Leaving no talent untapped in its quest for perfection, the Ford Motor Co. asked Marianne Moore, one of America's foremost poets in the 1950s, to suggest a name for the product it would debut in late summer, 50 years ago. She replied: "May I submit Utopian Turtletop? Do not trouble to answer unless you like it." Ford instead named the product for Henry Ford's late son Edsel. The Edsel would live 26 months.


The short, unhappy life of that automobile is rich in lessons, and not only for America's beleaguered automobile industry. The principal lesson is: Most Americans are not as silly as a few Americans suppose.


No industry boomed more in the 1950s than the manufacturing of social criticism excoriating Americans for their bovine "conformity," crass "materialism" and mindless manipulability at the hands of advertising's "hidden persuaders." Vance Packard's "The Hidden Persuaders" was atop The New York Times best-seller list as Edsels arrived in showrooms. No consumer product in history had been the subject of so much "scientific" psychology-based market research.


Remember the basketball coach who said of his team, "We're short but we're slow"? The Edsel was ugly but riddled with malfunctions. So many malfunctions that some people suspected sabotage at plants that had previously assembled Fords and Mercurys. Those two Ford divisions perhaps hoped the Edsel would bomb.


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"It was," wrote John Brooks, a student of American business, in The New Yorker, "clumsy, powerful, dowdy, gauche, well-meaning — a de Kooning woman." Chrome seemed to be piled upon chrome. Potential buyers recoiled from the vertical egg-shaped grill which reminded them of a toilet seat.


The transmission was worked by push buttons placed — convenience sacrificed on the altar of novelty — in the center of the steering column.


The larger Edsels weighed more than two tons, were 219 inches long — longer than the grandest Oldsmobiles — and 80 inches wide. These were not the cars for a year in which the surprise success was American Motors' little Rambler.


By Sunday, Oct. 13, barely more than a month after the Edsel's debut, anemic sales caused the company to pre-empt "The Ed Sullivan Show" with a Sunday evening Edsel extravaganza featuring Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.


But there was no sales spurt. Nine days earlier, the Soviet Union had launched its first Sputnik satellite, provoking a crisis of confidence in America's technological prowess and a reaction against chrome-laden barges as emblems of national self-indulgence. On Nov. 27, Manhattan's only Edsel dealer gave up his franchise and switched to selling Ramblers.


In the spring of 1958, S.I. Hayakawa, a professor of semantics (and later a Republican U.S. senator from California), ascribed the Edsel's failure to the Ford executives' excessive confidence in the power of motivational research to enable them to predict — and modify — Americans' behavior. In their attempt to design a car that would cater to customers' sexual fantasies, status anxieties and the like, Ford's deep thinkers had neglected to supply good transportation.


"Only the psychotic and the gravely neurotic act out their irrationalities and their compensatory fantasies," Hayakawa wrote. "The trouble with selling symbolic gratification via such expensive items . . . is the competition offered by much cheaper forms of symbolic gratification, such as 'Playboy' (50 cents a copy), 'Astounding Science Fiction' (35 cents a copy), and television (free)." In 1958, with the Edsel already turned to ashes, John Kenneth Galbraith, with bad timing comparable to the launch of the Edsel, published "The Affluent Society." It asserted that manufacturers, wielding all-powerful advertising, were emancipated by the law of supply and demand because advertisers could manufacture demand for whatever manufacturers wished to supply.


This theory buttressed the liberal project of expanding government in the name of protecting incompetent Americans from victimization, and having government supplant the market as the allocator of wealth and opportunity.


But all of Ford's then-mighty marketing prowess could not keep the Edsel from being canceled in 1959. Brooks calculated that it would have been cheaper for Ford to skip the Edsel and give away 110,000 Mercurys.


Today, the United Auto Workers union and General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are trying to reverse the slide of the American automobile industry. Fifty Septembers ago, the country was atingle with anticipation of a new product that turned out to be a leading indicator of the slide. As Detroit toils to undo some contractual provisions that have burdened the companies with crippling health care and pension costs, it should remember the real lesson of 1957: Americans are more discerning and less herdable than their cultured despisers suppose, so what matters most is simple. Good products.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

George Will's latest book is "With a Happy Eye but: America and the World, 1997-2002" to purchase a copy, click here. Comment on this column by clicking here.

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