“What’s Good for General Motors Is Good for America”

One of great urban myths of American business history is that the head of GM once said “what’s good for General Motors is good for America.”
That line is once again getting a lot of press today. There’s one problem — it’s not true.
Here’s what happened. In 1953, President Eisenhower nominated GM’s CEO Charles “Engine Charlie” Wilson to be Secretary of Defense. I’ll turn it over to Wikipedia:

During the hearings, when asked if as secretary of defense he could make a decision adverse to the interests of General Motors, Wilson answered affirmatively but added that he could not conceive of such a situation “because for years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

Gee, that’s kinda different. So what’s often portrayed as the ultimate in corporate arrogance that defined the atavistic nature of American capitalism was instead a humble statement of public spiritedness.

Posted by on June 1st, 2009 at 11:02 am

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