Reference the letter to the editor in your May 15 issue by Amy
Jaffe 80, I do not agree that this country faces any major crisis
in either its energy policy or its environmental policy. Also I think
it is presumptuous, if not arrogant, for Ms. Jaffe to judge Mr. Ford and
the Ford Motor Company in such an uninformed manner.
To be specific: "Improved mileage standards" by the Federal
government are rarely used by any other major industrial country. These
other countries use ferocious gasoline taxes to enforce their vision of
reduced oil consumption for cars and trucks. Existing CAFE standards have
increased our reliance on imported oil by more than 30 precent; that is
not the answer. The American people won't buy econo cars; in fact, they
are buying SUVs and trucks with miserable fuel consumption in record numbers
because they are free to make such choices. I think SUVs are a joke but
I respect others freedom to buy them.
There are no "engine systems" that offer zero emissions. Battery
powered cars get their electricity from central power plants. They just
transfer their pollution to a central source (which California doesn't
have enough of, even today). Their batteries use lead, sulphuric acid,
nickel metal-hydrides, etc. The potential pollution of a more than 2,000
percent increase in such batteries boggles the imagination. Hydrogen fuel
cells will emit water. The only problem is the only way to get enough
hydrogen requires hundreds of new electric generating plants to provide
the juice to make hydrogen at a cost much higher than todays
The automobile industry should be congratulated that auto pollution has
been reduced by more than 97 percent since 1970. "The livability
of our cities" due to auto pollution has never been so good, and
will get better as older cars leave the streets.
Ford has big problems keeping Ford profitable for its shareholders. Kow-towing
to his environmental friends can only exacerbate this problem.
Suggest you not hire writers from urban business journals or public relations
firms that have no connection to Princeton. Aside from the fact that the
university is looking for another large donation from a rich trustee I
see no relevance in the Billy
Ford story to Princeton. However, I think it may take him a bit longer
than four days to write a prescription for what ails Ford Motor. Are we
now doing personal and business profiles on every trustee? If so, I look
forward to the one about Peter Lewis 55 and his endorsement of pot.
While you are proofreading these drafts of VIP's check up on what eating
club " Henry Ford II ' 56 " joined. What alumni magazine am
I reading? Wasn't he in Fence Club and Scroll and Key. I don't believe
he made it to the graduation there either.
If, as your recent
article claimed, Ford is a staunch environmentalist, why then did
his company oppose higher CAFE standards for SUVs? Instead of supporting
these higher standards, the Detroit Big 3 embarked on a large disinformation
campaign about the consequences of these standards on car size.
Notwithstanding the fact that this campaign was rife with lies and misleading
statements, I respectfully ask: don't customers buy what's offered to
them? If there are no big cars legally available anywhere in the US, won't
they make do with smaller, lighter cars? Will they really stop buying
cars altogether, will the Big 3 go out of business for lack of a market?
The argument is so ridiculous that nobody bothered to point it out. People
are going to buy cars, that's not going to change. If the cars are smaller,
people will simply deal with it and move on.
Lastly, higher CAFE standards have effects around the world, as our cars
find their way to South America as second-hand cars. The effect of lower
CAFE standards cannot be underestimated for the health of the planet.
I ask again. Is Ford such an environmentalist? Please, let's keep corporate
propaganda out of PAW.
Talk is cheap, and so, apparently, is Bill Ford's environmentalism. In
the March 27 PAW cover story "Job
One" we are told that William Clay Ford, Jr. ' 79, board chairman
and now CEO of the Ford Motor Company, is "a self-described 'idealist'
and 'avid environmentalist' " who is convinced that, in addition
to returning Ford Motor to profitability, "he also must lead a paradigm-changing
campaign to transform Ford from a smokestack-belching 'old economy' enterprise
to an 'environmentally friendly' and 'socially responsible' global leader
of the 21st century."
How disappointing, then, to read in the the New York Times for
March 28 ("Talking Green vs. Making Green") that Mr. Ford recently
"backed an intense lobbying and advertising effort against a [U.S.]
Senate proposal [by Senators John Kerry and John McCain] to raise fuel
economy standards for the first time since the 1980's." The proposal
was indeed defeated.
This is hardly the behavior one would expect of a company striving to
become "an 'environmentally friendly' and 'socially responsible'
global leader of the 21st century." Many environmentalists want to
believe Mr. Ford when he says that Ford Motor is now working toward environmental
friendliness and social responsibility. But he needs to put his company's
money where his mouth is.
I was struck in your recent article "Fixing
Ford" for a huge omission in describing the challenges confronting
Billy Ford '79.
We face in this country a major crisis both in strategic energy
policy and in environmental policy. Post-September 11, the stakes of not
adjusting our national energy policy to lower our exposure to unexpected
events in the Middle East look painfully high.
Yet, your article on William Clay Ford, Jr. '79 completely ignores the
fact that the U.S. automobile industry, including Ford Motor Company,
lobbied persistently and virulently against the public and national interest
in the area of conservation, often referring to misleading (and in some
cases, outright false) information about safety and cost.
Mr. Ford is faced with a much bigger challenge than simply to come up
with television commercials to show that he intends to make a safe SUV.
He is standing at a crossroads where he can bring our children to a better
future by pushing forward improved mileage standards that reduce the extent
of our reliance on Middle East oil; and by moving more rapidly on engine
systems that offer lower or zero emissions, saving the liveability of
our cities and eliminating pollution-related illness. I was shocked to
see that your article mentioned nothing of this sort.
The question for Mr. Ford as an "environmentalist" is this:
We know he can talk the talk, but can he walk the walk? His strategies
on Capital Hill seem to speak otherwise.
Amy Myers Jaffe '80
Last spring, Amy Myers Jaffe served as project director for a major U.S.
task force on Strategic Energy Policy.
I wish Bill Ford 179 ("Job
One," March 27, 2002) well in his duties as Ford's new CEO. While
he performs them, he might ponder the results of his grandfather's dabbling
in world politics during the twenties and thirties. Henry Ford, as is
now widely known, was a rabid anti-Semite and generous financial backer
of Adolf Hitler. Hitler called Ford "my favorite American,"
hung a picture of Ford on his wall, and received a birthday present every
year from Ford. Ford published a virulently anti-Semitic newspaper, the
Dearborn Independent, which promulgated the "Protocols of the Elders
of Zion," a forgery which claimed that there was a Jewish conspiracy
to take over the world.
Whether World War II and the Holocaust would have occurred without Ford's
efforts we shall never know, but Henry Ford clearly had a leading role
in causing them. Rather than pursue the goal of selling more SUV's Bill
Ford 179 might devote himself to undoing the damage his grandfather helped
cause. My own family--and there are many others--lost grandparents and
aunts and large amounts of wealth to Hitler, and the damage, in my opinion,
has not been ameliorated.