Where are the captains of industry when we need them? There is precedent for business experts actually coming to the service of their country when we find ourselves in dire straights. And we are in a real crisis now, are we not?
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, the moral fervor of the American commitment, inspired by President Woodrow Wilson’s ringing call for a “war to end all wars,” motivated a large number of prominent merchants, manufacturers, bankers, professional men, and others to enter the service of the government as executives in departments in which they were expert. For their service they accepted only a token salary of one dollar per year, plus their necessary expenses. These federal appointees, and others who later followed their example, served primarily in times of national emergency, such as during the world wars.
Couldn’t some of our millionaire citizens come to the aid of their country now? Could we ask all the heads of companies we bail out to take $1 a year until they get back on track? Are there no decent rich people out there? How many millions does any one person need?
Iacocca did it in 1980. Would the CEO’s of the big three do it?
In 1979, a dollar at Chrysler was worth, well, a dollar. But on Jan. 7, 1980, that buck turned into $3.5 billion. Chrysler borrowed $1.2 billion by 1981, a year in which it cut losses to $500 million, from $1.7 billion in 1980. By 1983, the company paid back the loans years in advance and made $500 million.