For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.
That basic bargain created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages.
Back in 1914, Henry Ford announced he was paying workers on his Model T assembly line $5 a day — three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal termed his action “an economic crime.”
But Ford knew it was a cunning business move. The higher wage turned Ford’s auto workers into customers who could afford to buy Model T’s. In two years Ford’s profits more than doubled.