Good morning, it's Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021 -- Election Day 2.0 in Georgia. Jan. 5 is also an eventful date in America's cultural, economic, and political history. Harry Truman delivered his "Fair Deal" speech on this date in 1949; House Speaker Tip O'Neill died on Jan. 5, 1994. If you're from New Jersey and like rock music, you can point to the Jan. 5, 1973, release of Bruce Springsteen's debut album. If San Francisco is your hometown (as it is mine), you may recall that exactly 40 years earlier construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Like Donald Trump's "big beautiful wall," the span across San Francisco Bay was delayed by political differences, environmental concerns, litigation, and funding issues. Unlike the unattractive structure along the U.S.-Mexico border, however, the Golden Gate truly is a splendid sight. Moreover, the purpose of that iconic suspension bridge isn't to separate people, but to unite them. The final hurdle to building it -- financing -- was cleared when San Francisco-based Bank of America purchased $35 million in bonds as a way of helping the Depression-saddled economy of Northern California.
"San Francisco needs the bridge," chief engineer Joseph Strauss told Bank of America's founder and CEO, A.P. Giannini. "We will take the bonds," Giannini replied.
Once upon a time, capitalists often weighed civic considerations when contemplating the bottom line. They figured they could do well by doing good. On this date in 1914, Henry Ford unveiled a profit-sharing plan for Ford Motor Co. employees, along with a minimum wage of $5 a day, which represented a significant bump in pay. "Even the boy who sweeps up the floors will get that much," enthused the New York Times.
"It is our belief that social justice begins at home," explained Ford general manager (and future Detroit mayor and U.S. senator) James Couzens. "We want those who have helped us to produce this great institution and are helping to maintain it to share our prosperity."
Pretty basic, isn't it? It's a standard we might want to apply to today's oligarchs as well.
Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.