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The Dark Side of the 1920s: Elimination of Waste in Industry Sharon Rounds McElroy Project through Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum.

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Presentation on theme: "The Dark Side of the 1920s: Elimination of Waste in Industry Sharon Rounds McElroy Project through Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Dark Side of the 1920s: Elimination of Waste in Industry Sharon Rounds McElroy Project through Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum

2 What Was Seen as Waste in Industry? Unemployment during the Depression (1918– 1920) Speculation and overproduction in booms Labor turnover and labor conflicts Variation in products and divergency in grades and standards Inefficient processes Inadequate transportation terminals

3 Herbert Hoover’s View “While we currently assume that great advancements in living standards are brought about by new and basic invention, an even larger field for advancement of these standards is found in the steady elimination of our economic wastes….” Foreword by Herbert Hoover for Year’s Review in Industry, “Factory”; 12/10/1924; sent through A. W. Shaw; Herbert Hoover Presidential Library files.

4 “The necessity of maintaining a high wage level requires that all processes of manufacture and distribution be reduced to the lowest possible. This can be done through the elimination of those wastes arising out of too high a degree of diversification in certain basic products.” Foreword by Herbert Hoover for Year’s Review in Industry, “Factory”; 12/10/1924; sent through A. W. Shaw; Herbert Hoover Presidential Library files. Herbert Hoover’s View

5 Unemployment during Depression After World War I Many soldiers came back to no jobs Farmers still producing at levels needed for feeding troops Farmers losing money — not able to hire workers

6 Speculation is engagement in business transactions involving considerable risk but offering the chance of large gains, especially trading in commodities, stocks, etc., in the hope of profit from changes in the market price “About time to cut away the harness.” Ding Darling Cartoon, ddarling&CISOPTR=1495&CISOBOX=1&REC=2 ddarling&CISOPTR=1495&CISOBOX=1&REC=2 Speculation

7 Prevention of Booms “The best protection against booms is that every business man shall have the information so that he may realize from the shifts in credit, from the movements in stocks, of production and consumption, that the economic balance wheel is moving too fast and if every man then safeguards against danger disaster never comes.” Quotation taken from page 7 of A Problem of Distribution: An Address by Hon. Herbert Hoover, Secretary of Commerce. [Pamphlet at Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum.]

8 Labor Turnover and Conflicts Strikes seen as steps to overturn industrial system Strikes –Over 4 million workers went on strike in 1919 –One-fifth of nation’s workforce Image donated by Corbis-Bettmann Id=3294

9 Labor’s demands –Union recognition –Shorter hours –Raises exceeding the inflation rate Labor Turnover and Conflicts Image donated by Corbis-Bettmann Id=3294

10 Inefficient Processes Unskilled laborers seen as “dumb brutes” Skilled craftsmen were “obstacles to efficiency” Scientific management style –Frederick Winslow Taylor –made up data, trafficked in racist stereotypes, treated industrial workers like livestock to be trained –charged companies ridiculous fees for the service Increased gap between what workers produced and what they could buy

11 How did Taylor arrive at forty-seven and a half tons [as the amount of iron one man could load in a day] for Bethlehem Steel? He chose twelve “large, powerful Hungarians,” observed them for an hour, and calculated that, at the rate they were working, they were loading twenty-four tons of pig iron per man per day. Then he handpicked ten men and dared them to load sixteen and a half tons as fast as they could... Scientific Management Quote

12 Scientific Management Quote They managed to do it in fourteen minutes; this yields a rate of seventy-one tons per man per ten-hour day. Taylor inexplicably rounded up the number to seventy-five. To get to forty- seven and a half, he reduced seventy-five by about forty percent, claiming that this represented a work-to-rest ratio of the “law of heavy laboring.” Workers who protested the new standards were fired.

13 “16 Tons” by Tennessee Ernie Ford country/sixteen-tons---tennessee-ernie-ford html “You load sixteen tons, what do you get Another day older and deeper in debt Saint Peter don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go I owe my soul to the company store.”

14 Why Owe Soul to the Company Store? d/1031/Default.aspx Mines were communities Miners often paid in scrip Scrip only good at store owned by mining company Prices were inflated

15 Variation in Products “Wasteful Australia,” The Herald, Tuesday, December 9, 1924 Saves resources and wasted labor Cuts down on types produced Helps with inventory Cuts down on lack of standardization

16 Setting Standards for Quality and Grade al_commerc.htm Need tests to apply to determine whether standards have been fulfilled Set up by the Department of Commerce Producers, distributors, and consumers agree and benefit from them

17 Transportation Waste in the use of refrigerator equipment Waste in shipping gin-compressed cotton Light loading of freight cars Delays in loading and unloading of freight cars Waste in less than carload lots Waste due to improper ordering of cars Waste due to loss and damage Memorandum to Herbert Hoover; 2/25/1925; “Elimination of Waste Program”; Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum

18 “At last we’ve found something we can blame everything onto without its talking back.” SOROOT=/ddarling&CISOPTR=1398&CISOBOX =1&REC=7

19 “The consequent reduction of manufacturing, selling, and distribution costs, and the release, for active use, of millions now tied up in slow-moving stocks, combine to yield savings eventually reaching the consumer in lower prices, thus increasing his real wage and assisting him to a higher standard of living.” Foreword by Herbert Hoover for Year’s Review in Industry, “Factory”; 12/10/1924; sent through A. W. Shaw; Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum files.


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