Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Yes, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

    May 27, 2014
    Won't lie, that picture makes Shirley straight up look HAWT.
    Yes and Expat like this.
  2. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Aug 8, 2013
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    It was a good time for her, even more than her baby brother, I think, she was a true McGovern believer. That kind of faith and enthusiasm tends to bring out people's best. Also it is helped by the fact she's a redhead; having married one I have Views about redheads.
  3. Avalanches Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2017
    yeah that's not creepy at all mate
    skaven likes this.
  4. wolverinethad InfoSec for America

    May 27, 2014
    Commenting on a 45 year old picture of a celebrity with a singular compliment is creepy?
    Bomster likes this.
  5. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

    Aug 26, 2017
    True, though keeping the Fairness Doctrine would be beneficial as well
  6. Batman16 Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2016
    One, great TL. Definitely one of my favorites to read and reread and rereread. :) Secondly, I know this is kind of off topic, but what happened to Laos? Did the Pathet Lao take over like OTL or did something else happen?
    Yes and Bomster like this.
  7. THE OBSERVER Independent Progressive

    Jul 22, 2010
    New England
    I'm sure we will learn more about Laos in an upcoming post. Lots of detail goes into this TL.
  8. Bulldoggus Socially Guelph, Fiscally Ghibelline

    May 9, 2016
    Boston and/or Nashville
    Avalanches and Yes like this.
  9. skaven Vortex of Perpetual Agitation

    May 24, 2014
    I'm wondering how the ripples from McGovern will affect Britain. It would be interesting to see the good TB come to power in this universe, as Benn and McGovern were both sort of the embodiments of their nations new left, and their differences and similarities could probably get a book all of their own.
    Asteroid Miner, Yes, Wayside and 3 others like this.
  10. THE OBSERVER Independent Progressive

    Jul 22, 2010
    New England
    Judging by the books A Very British Coup and Spycatcher, I doubt that the Establishment across the pond won't be too happy.
    Yes and Bomster like this.
  11. Avalanches Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2017
  12. John Fredrick Parker Donor

    May 22, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Actually, I’d think that if we’re going to ask how the next a Labour Leadership Election is affected (and if the UK starts feeling ripples in late 1972), the first man you’d want to check on is Michael Foot. Depending on what he’s doing and wherever he’s at, the rest of the candidates - Callaghan, Jenkins, Benn, Healey - are reacting.
    Yes, Bulldoggus and mymatedave10 like this.
  13. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Capital Regional District
    Without the Watergate Baby Class how is the seniority system evolving? Obviously it all kinda went to hell, good intentions style, but there is still major pressure from Mo Udall and friends ongoing because they correctly diagnosed the problem albeit without the cudgel of the Babies I’m not sure how long it takes.

    Without public television broadcast hearings on Watergate for years, does Congress successfully resist transparency pressure and remain secretive? No bad thing in muzzling the bad faith actors climbing the ranks of the Republican Party, the Emperor of the Moon deliberately breaking Congress to win power has a far tougher job if he can’t lie on camera all day.

    Yeah yeah I re-read the Politico Magazine piece on it lol. How the ‘Watergate Babies’ Broke American Politics by John A. Lawrence. Anybody read his book on the issue?
  14. Expat Monthly Donor

    Oct 26, 2007
    Washington, DC
    Wasn't there an Atlantic piece with a similar narrative about post-Watergate Dems abandoning economic populism written in the last couple years?
    M.R.L, AussieHawker and Yes like this.
  15. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Capital Regional District
    How Post-Watergate Liberals Killed Their Populist Soul by Matt Stoller.

    It’s too late ITTL, but Nixon [1] broke American politics in so very many ways—even when he lost it turned into a massive bonanza for the craziest of Republicans and their forty year purge of RINO’s began. I suspect America could have handled one of Nixon, Vietnam, or Civil Rights, all piled up on top of each other… well. Welcome to our god awful timeline written by terrible television writers.

    [1] That other universe where Nixon has like the tiniest part of a moral core to stabilize the resentment and ambition and revenge driving him is probably pretty awesome.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2019
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  16. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016

    OTL, George Bush Sr. voted for the Democratic Hillary Clinton. I can imagine Nixon, if he had lived long enough, doing the same thing after seeing Trump take control of the party.
    M.R.L, Yes and Bomster like this.
  17. Threadmarks: McGoverning: Chapter 13

    Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Aug 8, 2013
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    Best and Brightest?
    The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.
    - John Kenneth Galbraith

    History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom.
    Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.
    - Milton Friedman

    We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as
    insoluble problems.
    - Lee Iacocca

    Never trust a computer you can’t throw out of a window.
    - Steve Wozniak

    Under a quiet chestnut tree brilliant with new leaves — and, yes, spreading too, he thought as Orwell's doggerel came to mind — John Kenneth Galbraith sat down a moment to do as he rarely could these days and ponder. He’d made a career, quite a career for an Ontario farm boy, out of the right sort of pondering. It seemed to him that might be useful here given the number of balls he and the little clutch of policymakers who’d followed him to this little Vermont farm outside Burlington — “farm” to city folk, it was a smooth clapboarded country villa in bright tones of red and green, owned by Harriman money — had in the air. In particular he thought that whenever this dogged, idealistic adventure in governing was done, if he ever heard the words “stagflation” or “Lordstown syndrome” again it’d be too soon.

    The first one had popped newborn out of a British politician’s mouth sometime in the last few months. Months in which Galbraith, and the larger McGovern administration, and Galbraith’s conclave of the great finance ministers of the West hat the papers started calling the Cambridge Group because they met at Galbraith’s Harvard homestead, tried to fight the effects of OPEC's blockade of the United States and slowed production that kneecapped economies across Europe and the Western Hemisphere. A lot of Galbraith’s fellow Keynesians in the arcane warrens of professional economics seemed shocked and perplexed. If inflation and unemployment went up it was an unpardonable sin against the Philips Curve they had no way to chart or remedy, other than to call it impossible and pour in more money until it calmed down, which as the Treasury Secretary reflected to only a very few people was what happened when you went up the arse of your own equations. In the same way but from the other direction, Galbraith’s close acquaintance and bitter foe Milt Friedman (plus Friedman's little mafia salted across the newspapers by right-wing press barons) crowed that this was the death of liberal economics, that stringent control of the money supply to the exclusion of all else was the way and the truth, that do-gooder meddling in the holy physics of markets was folly. Well, that after all was what a bunch of greedy charlatans with no care for society would say.

    While that babel of superfluous chatter sucked up all the air in Galbraith’s old line of work, he got on rather gladly with actually doing something about it. That was trouble enough, his own pragmatic eye for human behavior as the driver of economic life still unpleasantly surprised at times, like a man plotting the perfect murder who’d reckoned out fifty things that could go wrong but missed a dozen more. Together the United States and several other crucial Western governments had developed new relationships and new mechanisms — that was generous, arrangements really — to smooth the glut of OPEC money poured into the financial markets, ease the blow to developing nations, and bolster the shaky currencies of the Cambridge Group after his first instinct to shove the nations bodily towards a new Bretton Woods proved unworkable. With his new fast friend Andrew Brimmer at the Fed together they had targeted inflation directly. Brimmer ran a tiered interest rate structure fearsome in its detail to squeeze credit tightly anywhere it looked overexuberant. At the same time Galbraith fought and fought and fought again to make sure his good friend the president and the Democratic powers in Congress understood just how vital the Revenue Reform Act’s passage would be to the job, how badly they needed to pull loose money out of the private sector into shoring up dollar obligations and physical infrastructure.

    That was no easy thing. It could be done, but the work drained and rattled at him. First it was a six-month freeze on wages and prices in a targeted set of key industries. But like mercury in the hairlines of a glass or flowers through the concrete, subsidiaries and small-payroll suppliers and obscure resource outfits in rare earths and other specialized fields found ways to hawk the big outfits, to gouge. Fair enough: as Roosevelt’s old hand from the Office of Price Administration Galbraith landed on them with a regulatory hammer. It had mostly worked in practical terms but bought him no end of grief and invective in the business press. Then, just as it seemed the air might clear a bit so he could concentrate on progressive taxation and the discount rate, up came the Oil Shock in a towering wave and crashed against the dam he had built to stem and channel Arthur Burns’ easy money.

    And he had then to go do it again. Not that alone but gasoline rationing too, plus price controls on heating oil. The latter meant some places ran short where there was no profit in it until federal regulations caught up, which was the price of doing only what was necessary but looked slipshod to laymen. God how the oil barons had howled about the depletion allowance too, when George went on television and told them it was suspended. But all things considered George had worn the oil mess well, every inch the patriot of the Forties, reminding people of the days when riding alone meant riding with Hitler, how sharing burdens fairly was done to lighten them. But the fact a lot of ordinary Americans found any cause at all to like the lean, modest man in the White House spurred conservatives to greater heights, howling about the hypocrisy of American peacekeeping troops in the Sinai — even though they were home in the new year — sent by a “pacifist radical” or the needless suffering of working-class roughnecks who would in truth get more in the new EICP credits than their bosses lost in boom-time profits.

    That was prices; wages was where it got nasty. Also it was where Lordstown figured in. The site of General Motors’ newest, most advanced production line in the steel-and-smokestack country of eastern Ohio, Lordstown was where GM had promised to beat back the Japanese tide in the small end of the market with a compact four-door — the Vega — built with the latest in robotics and computer-driven quality control, alongside the youngest and best-educated GM workforce. That had not played out. Experienced quality controllers were fired left and right in favor of spools of computer tape. Older, more dictatorial foremen taken aback by the “college kids” and racial minorities commingled on the line, pushed too hard on discipline. GM, desperate to keep its place at the top of the global auto market, pushed for a forty percent increase in speed of production, much faster than any line had ever run, too fast for workers to do their jobs the right way.

    And the kids had fought back. Black employees were veterans of local civil rights organizations; rather than actual college kids many longhaired young white workers were veterans of the rice paddies, one of whom asked reporters why he should fear management when he’d had half a million Vietnamese trying to kill him the year before. In the spring of that fervid election year 1972 they staged an almost-wildcat strike. Little came of it on the bottom line, except a sign that the great factories might go the same way as the great cities, into riot and rebellion, unless someone figured out how to give the workers what they wanted without breaking the system, that is if the workers themselves knew what they really wanted. For those workers, the wild political ride of the autumn and almost dreamlike victory of President George McGovern was a much greater triumph than a shutdown on the line, a sign from the heavens that the vessel for their aspirations and best political ally had breached the gates to join them.

    In matters of the heart, that was true — the president believed to the soles of his shoes that the rash of wildcat strikes, worker sabotage, and union organizing around the country was a sign of America's mistakes and of the folly of corporate greed. He wanted it made right with new labor legislation and a visible, practical, human common cause with these new workers who in this Bicentennial decade had the grit and vision of the revolutionaries back when. The Treasury Secretary hated to be a wet blanket, but was compelled. Galbraith had allies in the system, too, corporate barons surprised to find Galbraith ready to step on union wage hikes as long as management shared the pain, union leaders who did not want to jeopardize years of collectively-bargained packages in a tough economy. Even as that dour old AFL-CIO grump George Meany found himself in the unlikely position of showing a little sympathy for the longhairs in order to vex the administration, for the most part the great powers arrayed around the National Labor Relations Board’s table could see the situation and liked that Galbraith was firm and clear with directions.

    For the workers, that was not so much the case. For the many who said they would wait and see, that they would still get more out of a McGovern administration than any other government they could devise, that the president and indeed the Treasury Secretary were foursquare with the whole administration on worker safety, the right to organize, the need to stake the heart of right-to-work laws, and a dozen other things, the native panic at rising prices and the desire to cut the bosses’ feet out form under them still drove radical moves. The other chatterers around the big tables called it “Lordstown syndrome,” with their love to label and other those employees who had a life’s work still ahead of them they hoped would let them rise, not grind them under. There sure were enough localized actions, brushfires across the labor horizon, unauthorized organizing attempts, marches, sit-ins, earnest missions by earnest workers to talk at Leonard Woodcock until he converted, or to Andrew Young about the uncanny valleys of the job market where work was worth less than welfare.

    It was hard. Galbraith’s own instincts ran to redistributing resources towards a younger, broader workforce, one with far more women and minorities in it, one disposed not to trust the comfortable rationalizations from what he’d dubbed the corporate "technostructure." But facts were as they were, and with tens of billions in loose oil money flooding the markets like the Johnstown Flood Galbraith could risk it all in the worst inflation since Germany or hold the line. So he held. That had brought him here to what the wire-service stringers were calling “the Burlington Conference,” really just another confab with the Cambridge Group but set to this very issue, to a coordinated strategy on wage controls and mutual budgetary supports among the Group nations, to support increased unemployment insurance where it was needed and investment programs to shore up supports for workers in other ways. It felt at times like fiddling around the margins. But a great mural was made of its details, and while everyone else either seemed to be dreaming of successes beyond his mortal reach or wishing for his failure, he preferred to get on with what he could see in front of him.


    “The trouble here, Lee,” said Hank the Deuce, the Henry Ford who was grandson of the Henry Ford and master of the vast Ford automotive empire since Eisenhower was on his way out the door, “is that I have to trust you.”

    With a bright grin squared up for combat the president of Ford Motor Company, Lee Iacocca, answered him. “Hank, sometimes a little rain’s gotta fall. You’ll get over it I’m sure.”

    Henry Ford II answered with a prowling grin of his own. “This part I don’t mind though. If we catch each other on the right day we can be straight about things. We surely need to do that now, these goddamn efficiency standards…”

    “This day was coming,” said Iacocca. “If it wasn’t the Arabs it’d have been the Corona and the 510 and the Civic that drove us to it.” Iacocca named the unholy trinity of square, solid, and most of all fuel-efficient Japanese cars that were eating Detroit’s lunch at the dealerships. “They had a market already, our research guys have been telling us that since the turn of the decade if we wanted to listen. Now they have an inside lane because their whole game is miles per gallon, which is the current show in town.”

    “Goddamn Galbraith with his gas rationing,” Hank the Deuce carried on. “Market signaling my eye. Those green-is-beautiful types, Stu Udall and the rest, they’ve got the White House’s ear and they will grind down the goddamn American automobile. And look who’s Secretary of Labor! Leonard goddamn Woodcock, Reuther with book learning.”

    “I’d say when it comes to it we need Woodcock there,” Iacocca countered. “Galbraith and his crowd can’t keep up the targeted wage-price freezes unless they have Woodcock to muzzle UAW. If the guys on the line at River Rouge and Flint had their way right now nobody could afford to buy a Ford, or a Chevy.”

    The Deuce broke into a steady fume. “And they’d better keep it up. Goddamn socialists — you read what Dick’s guy Kissinger said about all this, right? Damnfool White House so eager to put GIs shoulder to shoulder with communists in the Sinai when the Jews and the Egyptians ought to sort this out themselves, when we ought to be putting some muscle on OPEC so they know this market isn’t so captive.”

    Iacocca seized an opening. “Every big fat mess is an opportunity, Hank. One just has to figure out how to work with it. We know how to work with it, that’s why we’re here.”

    “Fair, so let’s get on with it then. These two pieces, on which we’re uncommonly agreed?”

    Another grin from the burly Italian in glasses. Both men, alone with their tumblers of scotch in Hank the Deuce’s spacious executive office, eyed each other like the sort of former prize-fighters each man resembled. “It’s a pincer movement,” Iacocca went on, arms raised and hands turned just a little to resemble horns. “On one hand we’ve got MiniMax and I’ll get to that but we should talk about the other hand first. That’s Carrousel.”

    “Yes it is,” said the Deuce. “I like Carrousel. With the two ‘r’s, Lee?”

    “It’s a play on words, Hank. Cute but not too cute. The educated suburbs is where we enter the market and this tests nicely. The folks who want to make smart choices, want to discern not just buy the only thing on offer, but also they have young families, and the grocery bills and the cheap family trips — have you seen what JP38 goes for lately? They can deregulate the airlines all they want, there’re gonna be a lot more road trips now not less — and then teenagers with friends. And even with a finance system as good as ours is, a lot of those folks have other costs shooting up like their mortgages and college for the kids and the rest, they really need to do as much as they can with one vehicle.”

    “Agreed. Agreed. There’s never been a question that you and I know what a garageable van can do in the market. More interior space, more efficiency, a new look that catches one of the only affluent middle-class market segments right now. No goddamn Jap engines though, yes?” added The Deuce with an eyebrow raised.

    This smile had a crooked edge to it but Iacocca’s voice was smooth. “No Jap engines, Hank.” It was a source of consistent frustration to Iacocca that Ford had a shot at license production of the Civic’s whole formidable drive train, and some larger Honda engine blocks also, but Ford’s commercial and racial prejudices — those of Henry Ford II, not the larger company — always barred the way. Never mind that Ford already had a working relationship with Datsun’s Japanese parent company Mazda, in Ford’s larger global operation. It was going to take an ocean to wear that stone away; another time. Iacocca went on. “One thing we have been doing is looking at a lighter alloy construction on the Carrousel body. The numbers indicate smoother handling, much more like a sedan than Carrousel’s parent design the Econoline. We might claw back some mileage also.”

    “And it’s expensive,” The Deuce rumbled.

    “It’s expensive. But also this administration wants an industrial policy and this is a hell of a forward-looking project. What are all those targeted wage-price controls for if we can’t leverage the steel caps our way? It’s a guaranteed domestic market for somebody, US or Bethlehem or another one of the big outfits. And what are our congressmen for around here if they can’t sit down in a room with President McGovern…”

    “Mister fucking Magoo,” said The Deuce with editorial flair.

    Iacocca went on undaunted. “… and tell him how many union voters he’s gonna lose if we don’t get behind this kind of plan? We have a decisive market advantage. Nobody else in the States has got this developed to the point of a marketable product, not even those eccentrics over at AMC, and even the foreigners… Volkswagen and Volvo and those guys only know how to sell to the people who already buy, they haven’t got any vision for expansion. We’re sitting on a new form of family travel. Hyper-efficient for a time when people have to get the most out of every dollar at the dealership. Smaller garage footprint and better wheel base than any of our station wagons, any of them. Or anybody else’s. Lots more storage.”

    “Lee, this part you don’t have to sell me on,” said Henry Ford II. “We know this. You know, also, I am sure, how loud the station wagon teams are howling. They’ve got a case: do we want to kill our own product sales before we have a new market carved out?”

    Iacocca shook his head. “I don’t think it’s going to play out that way. Until this takes off there’s no reason not just to step down the stairs one at a time, phase out slow. Not even always. There are people who will want the big, classic style. We can satisfy them — if they want that, well, that’s what the Mercury and Lincoln badges are for. Should be for. We pivot Mercury to what you’d maybe call the traditional American market, and up the market from there is always Lincoln. We’ve got it covered.”

    “But the Ford badge is a different story.”

    “You know the Ford badge is different, Hank. You’ve fought for that yourself. Sure sometimes it hasn’t worked…”

    The Deuce’s temper swung in for another appearance. “That sonofabitch Nader, the whole Pinto mess was defamation of goddamn character from start to finish…”

    Iacocca persisted. “… whether it has always worked or not with the Ford label we adapt. We’d never have the Model T, the Model A, or the ‘49s, that was you Hank — “ a smile, unforced, to punctuate, “None of that, not without a strategic vision and some appetite for risk. So we dare with it. That’s what this is. The numbers guys don’t want us selling something that isn’t cost-efficient in this market. I say, my guys say, they’re measuring efficiency the wrong way. You have to look at what a family can do when they get on the road. With Carrousel they can do more. And if they have to do more with one vehicle they’re not gonna beat that, not if we get the lighter bodies and you stack that up against every station wagon on the market. Then we have to look at net positives dealing with Washington right now. There is a real effort from all corners to try and get a handle on inflation and get a handle on cost inputs…”

    “On the broken goddamn backs of American entrepreneurship…” groused Hank, out of the National Chamber of Commerce hymnal for the production of which he gave generously every quarter.

    “If the cost inputs can stabilize, you also have the EICP starting up so you have this effort to shore up income for wage earners, especially at the middle and lower ends. If that works then Russell Long and George McGovern just made sure those folks keep buying cars. We — Ford, I’m not talking about all of Detroit here I mean us, specifically — can get them the cars they need, which I’d remind you is the point of this session.”

    Ford grunted assent. “You think we go ahead. Start shifting the wagons over to Mercury and scale down as Carrousel comes on line.”


    “Also you feel that we can use the union work force’s situation to persuade Washington in our direction.”

    “They want bold strokes from American industry. Great. In particular, and to this we can entirely relate, they want something where they can take a photo of it and sell a product, to Congress, to the voters. Even better. We have products.”

    “I hear your point about Carrousel. You know I agree with you in principle, if it wasn’t for the sheikhs and this rationing nonsense we’d be on that path already. You think the Mercury rebadge will keep things quiet with the wagons? We have a basis on that beyond your patter?” The Deuce’s brow narrowed.

    “A Mercury rebadge is an elegant solution. We can get on to that across a range of the traditional designs. When they see your grandfather’s signature on the grill, Hank, that should be about innovation. Innovation for everybody.”

    “Well, you want everybody, Lee, let’s talk about everybody. Where are we on MiniMax?”

    “I’m glad you asked. With MiniMax we unwrapped a problem and found an opportunity.”

    “Lee, you know me and all this Chinese philosophy BS. What the hell’s wrong with MiniMax?”

    “Nothing’s wrong on the design end, Hank. There are no issues with design, we can build it if we want it. But what we’re finding out as we do the studies, especially in this climate where we are now, is that the problem with MiniMax as we brainstormed it is we’ve got a vehicle that is neither fish nor fowl. It does one thing, which is pack enough people in for two bench seats on four doors, to commute with potentially better gas mileage. Now, that’s not a bad thing. It’s a niche. And there is that niche. But the same people who have that niche problem, like most people they live far enough that they have to drive to work, right? That means they have other needs too, and the two-car garage, this economy is just squeezing the hell out of that. A lot of younger people, younger families, who can only do one, and other people too who have probably one vehicle at current financing rates and they need a lot of versatility.

    “So, you say I’m sure, well Carrousel can take care of that. Sure it can, for many people. But there are others who either don’t have space demands on quite that scale, or who don’t have the money for it, even with a better minimum and some tax supports. So we need a vehicle for those folks, because there are a lot of them and we can be eating AMC and Chevy for lunch if we do it right.”

    “So you think MiniMax is going to fall through the cracks.”

    “Hank, it is going to fall through the cracks. It is. And we need to not put a foot wrong right now. Sometimes that’s gonna mean caution, that we retrench on what comes out badged for Mercury and Lincoln, it means how we handle the Mazda partnership abroad, it means how much we do or don’t fund innovation out of Ford in Europe. But we can’t misjudge our biggest market, not when Chevy’s right there…”

    “… with the 909s. I knew you were going to bring up the 909s.”

    “They’re calling the T-Frame now. And they are taking it everywhere, it’s going to be their world car…”

    “It’s a goddamn ripoff of BOBCAT is what it is. Of my project.” Henry Ford II had been the driving force behind answering the “supermini” challenge from Volkswagen and British Automotive’s Mini with the BOBCAT project out of Ford Europe, a boxy, tidy, robust hatchback with a range of trims, now in its European debut as the Ford Fiesta. General Motors had answered in kind.

    Iacocca raised a finger in pause and smiled again. “That’s where GM got it wrong. Because Fiesta, that’s only the tip of the BOBCAT iceberg. We have been doing a lot more than that. Our folks at Ghia have been doing a lot more.”

    The Deuce’s eyebrows rose like a poker tell. The deft little Italian design bureau was one of Henry Ford II’s favorite corporate purchases, an in-house tribute to his love affair with Italy’s automotive industry. Not so famous as his several efforts to buy out Ferrari, or at least its Formula One division, but under Ford’s product development umbrella Ghia was arguably more important. “So what have you gotten Ghia up to?”

    Iacocca reached down from the table as he took a swig from his tumbler and pulled up a dossier. “This is what our Ghia guys have been on. We’ve called it the Prima. You take the BOBCAT fundamentals, same dimensions and automotive body from which we got Fiesta, and redesigned the frame. You’ll see here that it’s modular. Sure you have a two-door cutback coupe as the basis. But with these different tops available for purchase it’s a small flatbed truck, it’s a hatchback, it’s a two-door wagon.” Iacocca’s hands scanned over the glossies as Ford inspected them.

    “You think we’ve genuinely got a market here with people who’ll buy Swiss-army cars, with the extra costs tacked on?”

    “I think this tells people that Ford will meet people where they are, that they can collaborate with us to get them the vehicle that works best for them and their money. I think there is a huge market share of folks who want a company that understands their bottom line, and will help them rise above this economy by being creative, a company that wants to help them put their own stamp on a car.”

    The Deuce grinned, though it was not a pleasant sign. “You’re a smooth bastard, Lee. Smoother every year. That I don’t trust. But you’re saying this is basically Model T logic.”

    “It is, Hank. By giving people the option on what they want we’re also giving them what they need.”

    Ford stabbed out a finger. “That, that reasoning works for me. Do you want the Fiesta first?”

    “We can work on the Fiesta’s situation in Europe as a subset of BOBCAT. What we’d really like is, if you give the go ahead, we want to take a year and get Prima out here in the States. Straight out of the gate. We have the basics already with Fiesta so there’s less run-up than on our Carrousel timeline.”

    “And it’s an American car?”

    “Hank we will get the vehicle on the streets as an American-made vehicle.”

    “That’s lawyer talk, Lee, don’t screw me on this — no. Jap. Engines. None.” The finger stabbed for emphasis.

    “Hank, we’ll get there.”

    “We’ll get there?”

    “Yes. We will make the way for that.”

    “Carrousel and Prima?”

    “Carrousel and Prima. Chevy’s T-frame gets stuck on our horns.”

    “Yeah, and screw Chrysler. They don’t get their debt in order and a supermini on the road in time and they won’t last the decade. Mark my words.”

    “We’ll get there first.”

    “Damn right we will.”


    President McGovern took morning coffee with his Treasury Secretary at least once a week, twice if he could. The president missed the simpler days of summer dinners at the Galbraiths’ amid the mild New England weather and left-liberal salon they hosted. Besides that, the president liked to keep his old friend who’d become the towering master of the administration’s economic policy where the president could see him. That morning Galbraith was quiet and drank his coffee politely, to which George McGovern remarked out loud that neither fact was a good sign. It was time to ask the Treasury Secretary what had starched his shorts.

    I see your friend Hubert’s at it again, said Galbraith parrying the question. The “your” had the tone used by one parent to the other when it was the latter parent’s turn to handle trouble with one of the children. The “friend” was true enough too, more than just affinity and mutual South Dakotan roots. The Humphreys and McGoverns had been neighbors for several crucial years and rarely — mostly around the sharper edges of the California primary in ‘72 — lost sight of the bond formed then. For McGovern, the studious and driven young senator ever about his work, he thought with a Dakotan mixture of guilt and gratitude on Hubert’s vast, warm, enlivening presence with the McGovern kids, when Humphrey was the impresario of rumbustious weekends, the ruddy-cheeked Midwestern Drosselmeyer of McGovern family Christmases, the floor show of the McGovern living room to younger McGoverns’ delight.

    The “friend” part mattered now too, a comfort maybe but also a tool, the repair of that relationship not just the president putting aside wounded feelings and Humphrey likewise when it was the younger, small-state senator who’d reached the big chair rather than the Colossus of Minneapolis on his third try. It was a grave question of the balance of power. Humphrey had substance and seniority, a deep, even troubled urge to take the center of any stage he was on, and an obvious power base from which to challenge or simply comment on whatever the unlikely McGovern administration wanted to get done. Much as Ken Galbraith could be vexed pretty damn soothly by some of Humphrey’s policy positions and more by his grandstanding, there was no one in Congress the president needed more to keep inside the tent pissing the other way. In the short span between the president’s couch and Galbraith’s, the weight of “your friend” thickened the air.

    What about? asked President McGovern. He’s at full employment policy again, said Galbraith. Jobs? said the president. Jobs, volleyed Galbraith. Hubert’s got a point, said the president. Hubert’s got a point, McGovern repeated, and Gus Hawkins has a better one.

    Hubert’s point made sense enough in itself, given that it came from Hubert. A New Dealer, a labor man all the way down, an old personal friend of more vulgar Keynesians than you could throw a cat at, Senator Humphrey didn’t only support the Democrats’ platform language from ‘72 about work as a fundamental American right and the gospel of full employment. Hubert believed, and believed hard.

    Hubert would tell anyone who couldn’t walk away fast enough, in that Scandinavian trumpet of a voice, that not only was this the essential struggle of the common man but also the country would be a whole lot healthier with good, salt of the earth Americans paying into the system in taxes rather than just taking out for unemployment or other welfare. That pool of common labor could and should be mobilized for the great tasks of the nation, give people a route into stable income with a better minimum wage and EICP for working families, and at the top end the bright sparks could go through trade school or the Job Corps if they came out of the inner cities, and roll on into the mighty engines of union politics that fed and fueled the Democratic Party. It’s Hubert’s schtick, said Frank Mankiewicz whenever it came up. And it’s good schtick too; the principles make sense when you spell them out.

    When you got into it, when you looked deeper, there were also wrinkles, details, complications. And no one was more aware of that than another balding pharmacist, from south-central Los Angeles in this case. That was Augustus Hawkins, long-time House member for the poorest and darkest reaches of the City of Angels, who had been meant for civil engineering in college before family deaths and crushing Depression-era unemployment barred the way. Tidy, tough, an indomitable fireplug of a legislator, with his neat mustache and weather-lined face Gus Hawkins not only could pass but was often mistaken for white at first glance — he had brushed with danger a few times after the Watts riots on that score — but the charter member of the Congressional Black Caucus leaned without any fanfare into the depth and urgency of his blackness. That was where he came into Hubert’s argument, too. Besides Gus’s role drafting the legislation that created the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and his quiet, dogged grace exposing South Vietnam’s “tiger cages” to the world, employment had always been a fundamental issue for the Angeleno. Now it was again.

    Gus Hawkins’ question was simple enough: where is the ghetto in this? We say we intend to strike at the heart of unemployment, Hawkins said. So, yes, we have now both a higher minimum wage and the EICP for workers. We can raise up many of the working poor out of that condition just by those means, which is a start. So surely it’s good for poor white folks, poor Hispanics have an opportunity here too, lots of work in agriculture and construction where unionization and raising the minimum does good, more two-parent families among Catholics also so they’d get the full benefit of EICP. In the South too, of course, you have more black families with both parents in the home, and these ongoing drives to unionize work that we must stand behind at every step. Get more people into jobs there, with them on union wages and union supplemental insurance under MECA. Even sharecroppers get some chance for improvement in the old Black Belts.

    But, Hawkins went on. But. I could get into my car today and drive the length of Compton Avenue in Los Angeles, and ask the pressing questions: who has reasonable access to work? Do they have circumstances where they easily could get their kids looked after? Or pay for transportation to a job? Any of that? And my district’s not bad all things considered, he continued. At least we have Tom Bradley now trying to spread the transport networks and some of the wealth out of development on public contracts and such. You try Detroit, or Newark, or the Bronx. Hubert’s waving the right flag. I intend to work with him directly on this. But we have got to get more people under that flag, or figure out what to do for them instead, or we will have failed people who supported you, Mr. President, more loyally than just about anybody else, even those hippies the newsmen love to talk about, people who had to believe this administration can make a change because they have no other hope for it.

    President McGovern listened with real care. He believed in the potential of decent work, in what Roosevelt had done in the Depression, in the hero stories told round the New Deal campfire and in the essential dignity of gaining a job. But for a chance here, another there, and his own fierce disposition given those chances, George McGovern would instead have been a distinguished historian of that very subject: even as it was he’d written what most folks thought was the best book about the Ludlow Massacre and the Colorado coal field wars of the 1910s. It was no small thing and, denied the Demogrant in favor of the EICP and the ongoing battle to get the damned Revenue Reform Act passed in time to do some good, the president looked to his policy fall-back position of guaranteed economic supports for families with children and getting damn near everybody in his country to work.

    There were, as Ken Galbraith liked to put it, pieces in play upon the board. Ideally the president and his allies on the issue didn’t want a jobs program as much as they wanted a jobs system, a structure with plans and methods to get people working on public projects and to encourage private companies to hire. Really Hubert in particular wanted much more than that. As you might expect of a guy who’d damn near been president thrice, the senator from Minnesota rolled with his own economists. They, unlike the Treasury Secretary, tended to be Keynesians comfortable in their orthodoxy, ready to tolerate some inflation while the market cleared from the oil shock and much more concerned about shoving unemployment to the left and growth to the right.

    That was Hubert’s whole take on the situation right there: strike the pilot flame again in the great engine of postwar growth and let the RRA’s taxes roll in to fund infrastructure and a thousand pumps primed like fountains. Not many of the administration’s own Justice League of left-liberal economists were so serene. They saw the numbers daily, long before those numbers got their dose of pancake and rouge to go out in front of the television cameras. One more hard shove from OPEC, or enough French skullduggery on the Eurodollar markets, or a breakdown in the Cambridge Group’s contract freezes with the great unions of the global West, and you could take all that EICP cash that would lift several million Americans out of poverty and just light it on fire. Or, as Galbraith liked to point out to the dour, ruddy mug of Tip O’Neill, we’re back to the well with Congress again on the minimum wage and that’s just stopping one spiral by starting another.

    If inflation was the queen of battle, though, you had other pieces at work too — bishops, for one thing, or at least reverends. In coordination with the NAACP, the National Welfare Rights Organization, and Chavez’s United Farm Workers whose beatified leader liked a good scrap that put him on the front pages, Rev. Jesse Jackson’s People United to Save Humanity, PUSH, lived up to the verb Jackson had used to christen it. Jackson and President McGovern got on well, or at least President McGovern hoped they did from an admixture of earnest white guilt and real political concern. Jackson had an IOU from the White House in his wallet to boot: Jackson had talked down his most zealous supporters on the Illinois delegation issue from the Democratic Convention in Miami, where the Reverend halted the parliamentary body-check meant to insert a slate from his “Rainbow Coalition” in place of the old party hands who backed Muskie. This helped buy Muskie’s lead block on the convention floor to set up McGovern’s run to first-ballot victory. Neither the president nor Jackson had forgotten.

    Jackson was more than enough of a politician to appreciate that the administration had fought an honest fight on the Demogrant, and also what Vice President Hart — more and more now the Reverend’s favorite on rights issues — had gotten Congress to do through the EICP for economic justice in the Old Confederacy. Yet he also knew that the job of the perfect, the ideals that made his marchers’ feet less sore and their voices full, was to make the good do an honest day’s work. He understood what Leonard Woodcock and Jackson’s old comrade and rival Andy Young said about wage restraint, too. But wage restraint didn’t feed kids in Cabrini-Green, or give young black fathers jobs that could bind families together. And the Reverend downright relished putting the sheer unargued blackness of the problem with tax credits and inflation controls in front of McGovern’s earnest brahmins.

    The people with jobs weren’t pushovers, either. The Secretary of the Treasury couldn’t get through the day sometimes without knights conspiring to move. Leonard Woodcock would call in past Galbraith’s secretary from Labor, or buttonhole him at economic breakfasts in the Oval Office, and the beat cop of Lordstown Syndrome would remind Galbraith again with those earnest Midwestern vowels how the administration had to meet unions’ rising expectations, if not through legislation that got bushwhacked by Boll Weevils then by some concerted executive policy.

    Woodcock was hardly alone. Over at Health and Human Services Andy Young had inherited Elliott Richardson’s weighty project, launched in Lordstown’s wake, to do nothing less than chart and ponder the nature of work in modern America — Richardson’s team of talented and iconoclastic social scientists just called it Work in America — and how the dangerous tide of employee disaffection and discontent could be channeled, lifted through the water-locks of education and employee cooperatives, and most of all curbed before employers rose up in clumsy and ignorant reaction to make things irreparably worse. Richardson of course had been summoned partway through to put lipstick on Brookingsgate — when it came to it, with his usual earnest Yankee probity he refused — but the job carried on and the full report dropped that December of ‘72 like a piano onto Elmer Fudd’s head. Young’s ambitious young planners had devoured it like holy writ, refracted through their own visions for empowerment and equality.

    All that meant there were many great engines spinning and lumbering their way across each other’s paths, blotting Ken Galbraith’s wide macroeconomic horizon. Hubert and Gus spoke to the president’s Irish and Social Gospel Methodist heart rather than his Midwestern head. Len Woodcock mortgaged every iota of forty years on the union front lines to keep bright long-haired dreams in line while the Business League bayed and jeered. Andy Young sat in fortnightly confabs with Teddy Kennedy and Fritz Mondale and Jennings Randolph mapping out a second wave of labor legislation to revolutionize junior and trade colleges and write federal regulations in support of employee-driven quality control and bullets spat by the incomparable Martha Griffiths in the House that mothers were workers too. And it was no small thing too, thought Ken Galbraith the dean of the Keynesians, to sit across the table from Japanese and Korean ministers who smiled while cheap Asian steel ate the mills of the West alive and flustered Democratic senators — Dick Schweiker too, which made sense — needled the West Wing for protection that would just bust price controls if that was the only plan in town. Or to watch PUSH bring seventy-five thousand marchers through the street past the Treasury Building like a swollen stream for Jobs Now that could give the Fords and Sloans and Rockefellers, the whole damned corporate technostructure, the excuse to shove more assets and more work overseas and claim the race to the bottom had saved the suburbs’ wallet. Even executive secretaries made of tempered Treasury steel trod lightly around the secretary’s sardonic gloom.

    Despite the shadow cast from Galbraith’s height, literal and political, neither the Democratic caucus nor President McGovern themselves were under it. Hubert and Gus pushed ahead, undaunted by gas rationing and fired, not dimmed, as the democratized Mine Workers’ national went out for sick leave and proper safety and pension security (the forty percent wage increase they wanted was cut down to scraps by controls) and in response the scholar of Ludlow in the Oval Office grabbed the strike like a hammer and swung it at ownership in the name of national energy policy. The National Chamber of Commerce and the Business League, Senator Helms and Governor Reagan, and a mob of supporting characters all skittered and seethed because when Mister Magoo showed up on every channel with that earnest twinkle and Midwestern politesse, it actually sold copy. Wildcatters still blew elevators with homegrown dynamite and shot at gun bulls in the bituminous seams of Appalachia, but leadership stowed the wage demand at ten percent, not too much over inflation anyway, while McGovern brought Jesus Christ and John L. Lewis and the Good War of the Forties to bear, that it was only fair that men who did some of the worst work in the nation, in the worst conditions, get treated as if they were also the men who would light American homes with American fuel at a price Americans could afford, since after all they were. All this only drove Hubert and Gus, Teddy and Andy, Dolores Huerta and Tom Hayden and the Reverend Jackson, that much harder that there should be Jobs and all should have them.

    It was the pharmacists who drafted fastest, and spared no horses on ambition either. They called it the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act, a million-candlepower lighthouse in the recessed gloom of the Oil Shock — it was “Humphrey-Hawkins” soon enough around the Hill because there was no love for the acronym. As Ken Galbraith put it rather more tartly than usual, the Red Queen would have sat Hubert down to breakfast and shaken his hand for a job well done, though he allowed that Hubert had a point that it would take deliberate government action to move toward full employment and still contain inflation. There were metrics and targets sure as day: Humphrey-Hawkins wanted a conclave of Executive Branch economists and the Fed alike to sit down, mark up targets for inflation and the measure of what counted as full employment in the climate of the day, and then compare notes. An Economic Report of the President was to actually mean something, the contours of the battlefield and plan of attack for that coming year based on containing price spirals, employing the jobless, and maintaining something like a balance of trade.

    Since they expected to be picked over by the Southern jackdaws on the details anyway, Hubert and Gus pushed their chips to the middle of the table on job creation. Full federal programs, plenty of incentives of both credit and cash for private employers to take up the slack too but works projects, and not just glorified leaf-raking but federal EEOC standards all the way and union wages where the task took skilled union work. Might as well make the Conservative Coalition come to us, Hubert said over one afternoon coffee with the president; George McGovern nodded along.

    Up from the other flank came the refashioning of the American workplace. Ted Kennedy revisited his earnest but hasty work from ‘72, no trial balloon this time, and with Jean Westwood’s help enlisted Carl Perkins, the flinty Kentuckian committee boss for labor issues in the House, while the miners’ strike matured into success and wildcatters still raged over wage caps and textbooks alike. To complement Humphrey-Hawkins they put forward Kennedy-Perkins, otherwise the American Employment Advancement and Quality of Work Act. It held within it dizzy mechanisms but also clear goals. For careworn industrial workers, especially in cars and steel, also benumbed and marginalized white-collar drones who served their companies’ computer mainframes, Kennedy-Perkins offered a combination of federal programs and federal incentives so that companies would make laboratories of their shop floors and figure out what worked, to move towards goals of collaborative project and process management and continuing education. Kennedy-Perkins had language to back-door pension portability under ERISA vesting standards, federal funds to coordinate with the Department Education (led by that great champion of two-year colleges Terry Sanford) on re-skilling adults and vocational laboratories for high school seniors in both manual and office work. It wrote up enabling measures for federal regulations that would govern labor standards and management practices where corporations dropped the overseer model of shop-floor management and moved to collaborative teams of workers who shifted focus between different facets of their work.

    Most significantly, Teddy struck out in the language of Work in America to say that housewives worked too, and for that reason EICP ought to sidle over in their direction. Here was where you got into Gus Hawkins’ neck of the woods, but not only there. As Hawkins took pains to point out, getting basic income back in the game through other logic was a fine start but it still didn’t produce a source of steady work for those unwed fathers out there. That was going to take direct federal action because who else would put the money in when you could still see the riots’ soot today on the buildings in Watts? So it was that Teddy and Gus converged to make their bills as complementary as possible, one to put agency and opportunity into American working life, the other to use mechanisms of intervention that would widen full employment into the cities.

    Other voices interjected themselves also. Down the West Wing hallway at Management and Budget, MIT’s whiz kid Lester Thurow very nearly glowed with energy and when folks started talking to him about federal policies and programs for full employment, boy did it turn out that he had views. Thurow was a big fan of Japan’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, the mighty MITI, and thought that to survive in a world of large and often lumbering corporations wedded uneasily to technical innovations that scalded with their speed, a MITI would fit nicely in the empty space of US policy, part teacher, part traffic cop, always intended to cultivate new industries and better processes in the old ones. And because he wanted anyone he hit up on that subject — especially the president’s chief of staff Gary Hart, eager for a road that led away from the assembly line and the uncouth men who worked on it — Thurow, the administration’s other best-selling economics writer, tossed off two full position papers on new directions in that many weeks and the second one wasn’t even showing off.

    Thurow was not alone. While the staffers wrote and the legal counsels vetted, the boss of the McGovern administration’s grand commission on the nature, actions, and role of multinational corporations in modern economics and modern politics, retired general James M. Gavin, came round to the White House for discussions. Gavin walked into the Oval Office spry, keen, animated, talking with the whole top half of himself, hands and pointer fingers in perpetual motion as he rattled along with that slightly nasal Pennsyltucky twang of his. The dynamic iconoclast and stickler for efficiency might as well have kicked cans down the streets of Mitchell, South Dakota with the president since boyhood; they took up from a slight, formal, and entirely administrative relationship as though old friends now. Efficiency and security were Gavin’s watchwords and they were George McGovern’s too when it came to it.

    And Gavin didn’t only speak the true South Dakotan shibboleths when he sat down opposite the president, who was open-necked and in slacks with just a cup of coffee for company like a late Sunday morning after church at sunup. Gavin brought with him a policy language, distinct, defined, and for a president who’d been concerned by Les Thurow’s missives when Hart Gary slipped them on to the Resolute desk, almost infectious. The best way the general who had tramped through Normandy at the front of his paratroopers could put it, on consideration, was that multinationals had evolved in such a way that they functioned as states not only within a state, but states too that were outside of states. They had their own reasons of state, rather as the Treasury Secretary liked to put it about the “technostructure” in his books. Their own way of thinking. And that could cross the Iron Curtain, or truck with governments that had national interests entirely distinct from or conflicting with the country where a given multinational was based yet not in conflict with the multinational’s arrangement of its resources or its profit motive. That was the rub. George McGovern said that description chimed with his own general sense of things and bid Gavin to keep on talking.

    All right, then, Gavin went on. The trouble with the Mills and Hartke bills from the last Congress, on steel and textiles, is that we don’t really gain from traditional protections. You can insulate corporations from the consequences of doing something wrong, from industrial processes to the treatment of workers, and you push costs up. I don’t think Secretary Galbraith would be too keen on that. The president shook his head with a sly grin. It also doesn’t help that two-thirds of the planet that wants a leg up on industrialization including in some of our own blighted cities. What you can do — Gavin’s pointer finger danced like a musketeer’s sword — is you control where a multinational, or another big corporation that wants to act like the multinationals do, control where they put those resources. You put the multinationals on a congressional leash about where they can put research or production, and about the rights of any overseas workers to unionize. I’m from Pennsylvania, Mr. President, Gavin went on. I appreciate the value of a union that does an honest job and it’s very clear to me that these folks in developing countries will too. In return they get congressional involvement on things like patent leasing, because we ought to use that as an anti-trust tool but also we can’t just give away the farm. Not when the Europeans or the Japanese, who don’t have our feelings on anti-trust partly because they have a more mixed economy, will back a national champion to put us out of the market.

    The president nodded, listened, asked pertinent questions, chatted a little about the war to guide the conversation from one subject to another. I come from academics and the ministry, said President McGovern with the hint of another smile. We like to talk a good while and then sit down at the end and solve all the world’s problems just to polish it off. Now as I see it we’ve got problems with growth, both because of oil and the stock market and because of these things the Club of Rome — and you, among others — have been talking about. Problems about distribution and maybe also limits. We’ve got serious issues with industrial relations, with wildcat strikes and really how modern working life treats the people who do it, not just management and labor but Ted Kennedy and the folks with him are looking at the nature of people’s jobs, how you get work to be part of a satisfying and rigorous life. Adopted as a child by a coal mining family and raised among improving Catholics, Gavin liked that turn of phrase. On top of that every way you turn we’ve got inflation, inflation, inflation. Ken Galbraith’s got the right approach I think — broadly yes, said Gavin in turn — but it does irritate the devil out of him.

    Mister President, said the Jumping General, what we have to have is an industrial policy. And I don’t just mean a policy about mines and steel mills. I mean we need to look at the economy like it’s the family car. Getting industry right is the engine, that’s about technology, about processes, labor relations, proper investment, deciding what industries we have to have for national security and what ones we’d like to have for prosperity. New ones go into that too. That’s also about where those industries are and also where we cultivate them, where we would like them to grow. It’s about getting people to work, and in our inner cities and much of Appalachia and parts of the American West we have communities that are dying, wrongly, it’s a great shame of the nation that they’re dying, because we could greatly increase what we can do as a country by bringing these folks on as full citizens at work. There’s education and public welfare policy and such things, those are the proper care and maintenance of the vehicle. And in all of that you’ve got satisfaction and self-improvement and making work part of a community life, that’s about how the ride treats the passengers. You’ve got to integrate.

    Well that about sounds like it, said the president with a long drag on his coffee. Let’s sit some people down.

    So President McGovern did. Fresh from the Burlington Conference he brought in Ken Galbraith and his confreres and body men. He brought in senior staff from the West Wing, the Vice President, and not less than fourteen members of Congress, along with the Secretaries of Education, Health and Welfare, and Labor and Paul Warnke the national security adviser just to show off. While Friedmanites hung fire on controls in the papers and Ed Gurney droned on about anarchist miners and Ron Reagan out in California spun fabulous aphorisms out of pure, thin air about how government intervention destroyed communities and a growing congregation of think tanks spun a tissue of numbers around the governor’s tales so as to anoint him a serious man, George McGovern did as he was inclined to do and thrust the usual suspects into a room to have it out.

    That worked out better, or at least more efficiently, than several of the president’s West Wing staff would have thought. Frank Mankiewicz and his industrious, bespectacled deputy Gene Pokorny in particular had wondered: the president tended to want to talk about policy details, and about legislative strategy, but beyond that tended to let his subject-matter bosses get on with things. This was a mixed bag, because on one hand there was a measure of healthy delegation and on the other, either that meant the president didn’t step in to sort out sectional beefs or that the secretaries-of-whatever and administrators tended to get the credit for success while President McGovern only picked up the blame, feeding the press’ image of the little man in the big chair. Here though, whether it was his feisty spitballing session with Jim Gavin or a general sense that something had to give, George McGovern seemed on top of things, the lean, curt, pertinent ex-Army Air Corps officer and less the gentle, professorial legislator.

    This was good because big things needed doing, so that they could turn and face the Conservative Caucus reborn and try to get on with it. The president and Gus Hawkins, together as interlocutors, got Hubert and Ken Galbraith into third-party conversation about how to set up a system and a structure through Humphrey-Hawkins that the Treasury Secretary could live with. That turned into a Council on Economic Security, bruited by the president in his continuing effort to reclaim the language of national security from the bomb-builders. They would act as the implementation body for the president’s targeted economic goals, in line with the official annual statements to be made by the Federal Reserve — which really meant Ken Galbraith’s new good friend Andrew Brimmer — and the Office of the President. Gary Hart would act as facilitator and referee — that idea had fewer fans but both McGovern and Mankiewicz wanted a substantive gig for the chief of staff that would simultaneously get his fingers out of the Domestic Policy office — with Treasury, Labor, Commerce, Agriculture, Health and Welfare, and Education in attendance, others could come and go when needed or asked.

    The meeting also produced two other outcomes the president thought necessary. One was to push ahead with language from an earlier draft, removed by a nervous Ted Kennedy who thought it too ambitious, to put language about employee profit-sharing back in Kennedy-Perkins. Employee stock-option plans, yes, and rewards for companies that managed them through the mechanisms laid out in ERISA, but also language and pilot programs for companies to share out profit dividends from within the specific work of employee task and project teams, money they’d labored for directly. Galbraith talked through mechanisms and levels, intended to discourage commerce from jacking up prices in response to fatter wallets, and then pronounced the end result acceptable. The other chief project was to lay down binders on the Oval Office coffee tables with copies of a reorganization of the Department of Commerce. What had, the historian-president pointed out, once been the Department of Commerce & Labor would become the Department of Commerce & Industry, stewards now of an activist industrial policy coordinated with the other seats on the economic-security group. Dwayne’s first love is still the private sector, said the president of Commerce Secretary Andreas, he’s been a real help to our food and farming policy and in trying to hold off some localized trade wars, but he misses the work he did with ArcherDanielsMidland. To that the attendees heard too, though the president never said, that the ever louder murmurs in the press about Andreas’ ‘72 campaign contributions refused to go away.

    What then? Others asked. We push the reorganization model through Government Operations, said the president, and we bring in a secretary whose job is to take a real consideration of how best to organize American industry, how to preserve what we have to have and promote the next big things. At that point the president asked Jim Gavin forward. Gavin spoke a little and took questions after. The most pointed was from Ron Dellums, young and thorough and pointed with broken Oakland in his trust. Dellums asked about Gavin’s first priority. Gavin, as though back at the map table before Normandy, said his first priority would be to go into America’s cities and meet with the communities there — no one needed reminding what color those communities tended to be — and say that the McGovern administration intends to put the men and women of the inner cities to work, real work in real industries that would tap the nation’s whole potential and heal a wound Americans had left to fester. Dellums said he would wait to see how that turned out, but that he liked the answer; the men shook on it. From there, as though the sky parted into a quiet evening, it wound down.

    After the policy mob filed back out past Doug Coulter, who’d taken notes and now hid in plain sight spiral in hand like he was still in the elephant grass, a handful of staffers gathered around the Resolute desk where the president talked at them a little more. I’m glad we held this meeting, he said. It’s become clear to me that we have got to get our people on the same page, at least clearly aware of what the others among them are doing. Our people do very good work. Very good work. But we cannot only sit down with problems as they come to us and puzzle them out. We got here because we seek to mend the country and do right by the ordinary people who live in it, and we’ve been jogging to keep up on the economy since we came into town. I don’t need Leonard, or Frank here — he nodded in Mankiewicz’s direction — to tell me we’re going to lose working people, or the many people who go without work, if we’re not for something again.I don’t doubt that will be difficult, at least we’ve got RRA out of committee for the floor debate now. But we can’t only stop bad things from happening. One thing these good young people have got right is, if we don’t build something better than what did we do it all for? We’d have squandered our chance and our responsibility. And yes, said George McGovern as he looked again at his Counsel to the President, that is what he’d be expecting me to say. No one who’d lived through ‘68 needed to ask the President of the United States who that was.


    They called it the Alto. That wasn’t a name with which they meant to conjure. Just a plain, straight tribute to the guys who designed it and made it work, from the staff of the Palo Alto Research Center — PARC to its friends — of the Xerox Corporation. Rather than west down the ridgeline into the cities of the San Francisco Bay, PARC’s denizens liked to say that their little shop looked east: back to Xerox headquarters in far Rochester, New York of course, but closer to home down the hills into the green valley around San Jose, once known for its mild weather and its cut-flowers festival, now more rife each year with companies that developed advanced circuitry, computing research, and defense electronics.

    Even next to that little universe of highly advanced skills and fierce scientific creativity, the guys at PARC were treated by those in the know as the local wizards, and local favorites as well. Jack Goldman’s boys, were the PARC crew, the design-engineering progeny of Xerox’s chief scientist. As several San Jose wags put it, like Jesus’ disciples those PARC guys were destined to do even greater things than Goldman himself. The stuff they came up with … laser printing of computer data, the next natural extension of Xerox’s particular genius. Object-oriented reflective programming language that Alan Kay’s team had first ginned up about the time that crazy guy Colson went and lit the ‘72 presidential campaign on fire. The new project for networking computers locally that Bob Metcalfe codenamed “Aether.” And, yeah, the Alto.

    It was the Alto that really tingled the circuit-heads’ nethers. And why would it not? Boy that was a gorgeous system and all of it new. A graphical user interface with monitor mounted in a lean, portrait orientation to the user, a writable control store extension and direct access to the machine’s microcode, up to five-hundred-twelve kilobytes of memory organized on a hard disk drive in sixteen-bit word functions, the Aether local networking system, a detachable keyboard, and the Stanford Research Institute guys’ great little invention, their three-key “mouse” controller that the whole PARC gang liked toying around with. The software followed close behind: a paintable bitmap editor, the “what you see is what you get” document prep program that interfaced with the mouse — pride and joy of Butler Lampson’s little team — and an integrated circuit editor on the same principles, and a dedicated electronic mail tool because PARC was jacked into the Arpanet off-site networking system. Lampson called Alto the best damn sandbox to play in anywhere in the business. He had that pegged.

    Advanced computer design was a really small town; word of Alto’s unmatched, killer quality got around the upsmanship of the silicon gearheads faster than data-card central processing could get its shoes on. It was in those days a friendly atmosphere, too, the thin layer of ruthless corporate competition softened by a deep cushion of cheery, socially awkward fellowship and the energetic brotherhood of tinkerers and blue-sky men. Here as the Palo Alto ridgeline tumbled down into the valley social clubs formed around computer design, as engineers and programmers who competed nine-to-five punched out and gathered at the homes of first-generation successes from the cathode-ray Fifties to show off their garage-lab whimsies and talk the only talk that flowed almost tipsily from them, which was shop. With PARC’s ties back east, that talk leapt over the continental divide to reach the corporate laboratories strewn across upstate New York, and from there to the concrete-and-glass basilicas of MIT.

    That was where, in 1974, the spark of PARC jumped the gap into government. MIT’s entwined, indeed incestuous, fraternity of big science, big numbers, and big business was also Lester Thurow’s academic manse, Thurow of the keen eyes and mad-scientist curls, of OMB, and the fierce ecstatic tail that wagged the McGovern administration’s emerging industrial policy. His membership of the Sloan School’s freemasonry out of MIT connected him to the many-angled networks of scientific managers and managed scientists across the country and fed his own fascination with advanced electronics. OMB had inherited the stolid tape reels and chuntering, card-driven, room-sized boxes of lights and diodes that awed senatorial lawyers back in Kennedy’s time. Another keen-eyed high country pragmatist of the kind that dotted the McGoverners’ ranks — raised on the banks of the Yellowstone in Montana — Thurow sized up the processing power and time-to-function ratios of OMB and saw they wouldn’t do. The Chileans, even the dour and careful Christian Democrats who’d replaced the late firebrand Allende, had this really rather remarkable CyberSyn project going, where the pace and detail of their own data networks crashed bodily into limited processing speed that would need a steep cycle of upgrades. The intelligence guys, even the private-sector kind who had drinks at hallowed Bostonian clubs with Sloan School folk, said that Brezhnev had raised from the dead his fascination with the OGAS project and that Kirilenko character had put his burly, oil-fired thumb on the bureaucratic scales in favor. Someone around here needed to keep up or the Japanese and the communists would compute dizzy circles around a nation that couldn’t get its cars to make twenty miles a gallon. Somewhere in the Cold War tendrils of American research and development, Thurow reckoned, was a solution that didn’t know it was looking for this problem.

    It turned out he was right. It was a sit-down with Jack Goldman himself, over a drink at the Metropolitan Club in D.C., that did it. Goldman was well and firmly het up about the administration and the Federal Trade Commission; the anti-trust suit underway might force Xerox to license its patents to the Japanese — the Japanese no less — and cut the company’s market share disastrously. As he got underway Goldman squared up in his chair and made clear that if those starry-eyed rule followers in the West Wing thought they were going to break one of America’s biggest and most dynamic corporations then he was ready to stand at Armageddon right here with a bourbon, up, in hand.

    Thurow, never one to say no to economy of scale, expressed that he wasn’t a fan of the whole business but, really, with laboratories of Xerox’s quality, surely there were other products Rochester could use to wow the nation. Goldman demurred that, yeah, he had the best research guys in their fields and they did great work, but a lot of it was blue-sky stuff and really about patent preservation. Thurow countered that he couldn’t get his old crowd in Boston to shut up about the boy-wonders out there at PARC, for one thing. Goldman spoke well of his boys. With the Xerox man thus set up Throw spiked the point home. Now Jack, he said, if you have what these folks are calling the best damned computer of this generation in your labs I wouldn’t hide that under a bushel, or even in Palo Alto. Matter of fact let me get out there and take a look around. You might just gain a public customer for the things.

    So Thurow did, in the course of the next few weeks, and the mild but urgent young polymaths at PARC gave the Alto over to the OMB boss’s diamond-edged stare stem to stern. Thurow chewed it over from semiconductors to software, talked about production requirements, poked at costs, and asked the young guns what it would take to shift the project’s weight from boutique genius to serial production. This spurred shrugs and speculation; the PARC guys’ jobs were to maximize quality and invention, not trim the sails for efficiency. All right, said Thurow, who and what do you need for that? This the gearheads could take a shot at. Once he’d heard them spitball, Thurow said fine, I’ve talked to Jack Goldman and you should get on with that so we can get the marketable product tendered by summer of ‘75 at the latest. The OMB needs these resources, and once OMB has them we can strongarm the rest of the Office of the President into the deal and drop costs a little on bulk. The PARC crew were thrilled but trepidated. They were a blue-sky lab, draftsmen of the shape of tomorrow, not an industrial design outfit. Thurow smiled his granite Montanan smile. The accordion’s a whole lot harder to learn to play than the recorder, he said. You guys are already Lawrence Welk; don’t worry so much about whistling a different tune. Chuck Thacker asked if maybe the government wanted to transfer the specs over to IBM because of pre-existing contracts. Thurow smiled and said IBM could stand to trim a little weight around the middle by jogging to catch up with Xerox.

    That set Goldman’s boys about their work, part of which was finding more boys. That made the living room clubs for self-made systems strewn across the San Jose Valley even more masonic in their way: bright young guys with new systems and personal talents got vetted in the company of their peers and for some, conversations turned more and more towards the kind of engineering and design challenges the PARC crew faced. Word got around, of course, because PARC had always liked showing Alto off to their friends in the trade and people got the drift that some big contract was in the offing. Rumors seeped and percolated all the way to the Oakland hills that Xerox wanted an Alto II, a lean, keen child of the original’s bespoke triumphs. Building the right toys that you showed off on Friday nights to the other button-down guys in glasses could get you in the door.

    That had certainly sat them down, Chuck and Steve, together in one of the main workrooms at PARC. Exactly two of those young, button-down guys, Chuck with his squared-off glasses and the remains of the old tight Sixties engineer cut grown out and gone squirrely in the back, Steve a lean, compact guy, half his face bushy with eyebrows and beard like a young Yogi the Bear. Chuck had shown off an Alto up close in person for Steve’s eager delectation, and they’d talked some shop because who wouldn’t on this ground hallowed in a low key by wire and solder and silicon, and now they wanted to get at some points.

    The guys really liked hearing about that fix you pulled off at Atari, Chuck said. Was it really five grand, he asked, the reward? Steve nodded. Five grand — almost a year’s salary — for it and they couldn’t even use the damn thing. Really, asked Chuck. Steve grinned: really. Fifty chips out of the design, ran it all through sequencing the RAM, worked like a beauty. But no scoring system and no coin input, so no product. But I got the five grand anyway.

    That’s what you put into your system? asked Chuck. Steve nodded. It let me upgrade the capacity on the circuitry and try some workarounds, he added, plus I could get some really nice wood for the demo cases. Another toothy grin under all that fuzz. I gotta say, replied Chuck, all the guys liked it. The easy plug-in on keyboard and the video hookup are great. And what was the deal with the video generation again? Steve bit on the leading question; he was modest but not phony about it. I got a processor in that only accesses memory on alternate phases in the clock cycle so no memory contention to deconflict, keeps the video stream steady. I’ve got an idea about the reads on the outputs too, Steve added, rising up a bit in his chair as Chuck focused in. I think I can get all the required ratios out in the finished product with a master oscillator whose period I can divide by the ratios. Really? replied Chuck, because Steve really did seem to have a hell of an eye for how to keep things simple with some unorthodox Double-E. I’m trying, said Steve. I’ve still got some of the Atari money so I can run beta tests on the engineering principles with multiple copies of the circuit board assembly.

    That’s good stuff, said Chuck, nodding with encouragement as he talked. You figure your design could be marketable? I mean for it to be, said Steve. A personal computer — I mean that’s what I’m going for here, a genuinely personal computer not a workstation — oughta be lean, cheap, easy to use for someone who knows their way around a little, and simple which oughta also mean reliable. Chuck grinned at Steve’s evangelism and said that sure would be nice. What do you call it again? Chuck added. Steve almost blushed a little. Right now I call it the Leslie, it’s kind of corny but that’s my sister’s name and she’s local, I mean I grew up here myself. Right, Chuck replied: local boy made good.

    So you’ve seen our baby now, said Chuck. I guess really it’s my baby, he added — he had after all run the design team for the Alto in ‘73. It is, said Steve. It’s a hell of a thing you PARC guys have done.

    Chuck widened a knowing smile. That might not be “you guys” a lot longer, Chuck said. At least for you, I mean if you’re interested. Steve paused attentively. The rest of the teams really like your style, more than that what you do, all this lean design stuff, minimal parts, maximal engineering outcomes, that’s what we have to have. The whole Alto II thing is very much for real, Chuck confirmed. We need guys like you who can take the Alto architecture and boil it down to something that doesn’t cost a mint. Well, Chuck grinned again, maybe a smaller mint, anyway.

    Steve smiled and nodded. Big contract? he asked. Office of Management and Budget out of the White House, said Chuck matter of factly. They think if OMB buys their full order they can expand that on to the rest of the building. And you know how those Washington guys are connected. The official plan out of corporate is to get more Altos out, as donations to major academic research institutions — you know how the corporate guys are, at the prices we’d charge they can write it all off as charitable giving and use the tax benefits to help fund Alto II. Steve nodded. I’ve never been big on the business side myself, he said. I like getting in the guts of it with the circuitry. But you’ve gotta have folks who understand that part of the process. Good, Chuck answered. Good on both counts.

    Speaking of that, added Chuck Thacker, what about that buddy of yours? Steve looked quizzical. You know, Chuck carried on, your guy from Atari days, maybe before too?

    Steve thought. Oh! he said. You mean Steve. Chuck nodded. Right — other Steve. Furry and voluble Steve, mind turning already as he laid out the Alto’s circuit boards in his head and started to tinker, nodded back. Yeah, Steve. He’s still in India. Decided to stick around. I mean he’s not George Harrison now or something but he’s really gotten into it over there, plus he’s trying to hook up some work with that special economic zone they set up in Bombay. With the software guys. I think he figures if they can get the hang of the whole free enterprise thing that could be a big market. Yeah, it’d be great if we could get him back but that’s what he’s up to these days.

    Fair enough, Chuck Thacker replied. Right now I think what we need to do is get you and Butler Lampson in a room together, he added. Butler’s gonna ride herd again on the II model like he did with the original. Design teams will go through him. Sounds great, Steve replied. Yeah we want a total process here, Chuck added. We’ve had one so far, hardware, software, networking designs, all of it under one roof. We’d like to keep it that way. Sounds like a nice setup, Steve said. Good, said Chuck.

    One more question, Chuck added. And it’s my fault, I didn’t take a look myself: are you spelling your last name with an “s” or a “z”? Z, said Steve. Wozzzzzzniak. Chuck nodded. Good and Polish, Steve added. I mean, technically it’s even Stefan but I always hated that. Just Steve.

    Chuck smiled again. Just Steve it is. I like the last name too. Wozniak, huh? The grin widened. The Wizard of Woz, maybe? Steve chuckled. Chuck carried on. Wizard of Woz, then. Lampson’s gonna love that.

    Nice, said Steve.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
  18. John Farson The Good Man

    Sep 24, 2009
    Between Sweden and St Petersburg
    Well now, this was a pleasant coincidence. Will comment more once I've actually read it.:happyblush
    Bulldoggus and Yes like this.
  19. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Aug 8, 2013
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    Asked and the answer's right too. Indeed there may be at least little hints in the very next chapter cued up, in which it is Great Power Diplomacy Time Down South ladies and gentlemen. So when we get around to the China Opening and suchlike there may be at least hints of the situation, or even more.


    Well spotted. Now, I'm not saying that sort of thing is a dead cert. But it's well spotted. Wedgie is still in the chrysallis a bit between his anodyne-technocrat period and full zeal-of-the-convert firebrand stage. When there's a leadership election again in the Labour Party it'll get interesting, I am sure. Especially given that the McGovern-Fraser commission has clearly, ITTL, been a rousing success since its reforms elected a president (people can debate the historical contingencies about how that president got there, but ex post facto logic in this TLverse is going to lean heavy on "McGovern-Fraser works") we could see earlier constitutional reforms in Labour on the selection process too, although then you get both left and right at cross purposes (the Old Right don't want CLPs voting, the Old Left don't want union block votes.)

    I want to pack that little exchange together and highlight it, because when I get back in here writing properly verbose answers to comments, I want to get into that - first I'll say that we may even see some of those Watergate Babies in Congress, they'll just be arriving in a quite different context. And we're only a couple of chapters out from seeing what happens, in terms of Congressional hearings and all the rest, when the McGoverners try to roll up their sleeves and clean out the stables of the Cold War state themselves...
  20. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

    Aug 8, 2013
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    :p:p:p I am happy to provide pleasant coincidences.