User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: As Goes Packard, So Goes The Nation

"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

As Goes Packard, So Goes The Nation

Packards were a lot like Cadillacs.  Prior to the second world war, Packards were considered to be superior to Cadillacs and were purchased by politicians, gangsters and business leaders.  Noted for their durability, Packards were often used to make ambulances and hearses.  Here is an example of a 1939 Packard hearse.

Many of the articles in this blog are about more than one thing.  Last month I wrote a piece which featured a picture of a 1956 Packard and a picture of the Packard factory in Detroit as it appears today.  While I am not certain if it is wholely accurate, several sources on the web say that the Packard plant is the largest abandoned factory in the country today.  I am certain that at one time, the Roebling factory in Trenton was even larger than the 3,500,000-square-foot Packard plant.  However, apparently Trenton has done a better job of digesting this plant.  Part of it has been converted to offices and retail space, some of it has been torn down and part of it still lies dormant.

One thing is certain.  Detroit has the largest concentration of abandoned industrial and commercial properties in the nation.  This is largely because of the decline of the American automotible manufacturing industry.

The story of Packard plays out like a Greek tragedy.  From the time the company was founded until the end of World War II, the company was an American success story so cliche, that it almost sounds made up.  However from 1946 onward, the story of the company was how inept management can take a perfectly good company and run it straight into the ground.

Basically, in the postwar period the company stopped being what it was that made it a success.  Instead it lost its way and tried to be something else.  As a result it self-destructed.

The lesson of what happened to Packard was not learned by the other car makers.  General Motors, Ford and Chrysler also forgot what it was that made them great and as a result, Ford is much smaller than what it once was and GM and Chrysler went bankrupt and would have also disappeared if they weren't rescued by the government.

The car companies aren't the only organizations in this nation that have lost their way.  It appears the country as a whole is also suffering from the same fate. 

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