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An industrial David versus Goliath

Discussion in 'Tesla, Inc.' started by hallcp, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. hallcp

    hallcp Member

    Jun 12, 2018
    I just finished reading George Woodbury's wonderful 1950 book "The Story of a Stanley Steamer". Near the end of the book he tries to explain why a car as wonderful as the Stanley Steamer can never be re-introduced. See if this sounds relevant to our present situation:

    "Mechanically, there seems no good reason why the Stanley Steamer could not be revived; and in such fashion it might make all we now know as automobiles as obsolete as the high-wheeled bicycle. This is an intriguing thought, but unfortunately nothing else, or it would long since have been done.

    While there appears no mechanical reason for keeping the principle of automotive steam longer in its obsolescence, there are other factors. There is, as I see it, a very cogent, highly practical reason why it does not come to pass. It is the existing automobile industry, and the economic situation supported by it. Automobile, steel, and petroleum industries have common cause in preserving the automobile just as it is, with but slight change from year to year but never radical or basic alteration. The automobile has made them what they are today; they're happy. No matter what mechanical improvements are possible they cannot make them, even if they should want to. These industries have grown so great, are so specialized, and involve such a tremendous percentage of the national economy that they cannot change, short of bringing about economic catastrophe of appalling magnitude. Like Dr. Frankenstein, they have constructed a creature of such formidable size they are no longer in full control of it. They might want better machinery and know of its existence, but they can't make it. At least they cannot make it immediately -- perhaps only after a long, almost geologic, series of gradual changes. It would appear that we have sold our birthright of individual enterprise and initiative, and shouldn't sniff at our pottage. The benefits of mass production are obvious, but we have paid a good price for them.

    Automobiles are no longer machinery; they are out of the hands of the mechanic and firmly gripped by the salesmen. We were once a race of mechanics; now we are a generation of promoters. Our static industries, grown to dinosaurian proportions, would die if the status quo were altered. Anyone can imagine how unpleasant it would be to have a dead Brontosaurus in the back yard. Like all powerful industrial organizations, they have via their advertising a firm grip on public opinion which they can mold to suit their fancy through the media of press and radio.

    Any industrial David, slingshot in itching hand, who would like to take a pot shot by introducing new ideas or reviving old ones, would be well advised to consider his double risk. If he did not get his head knocked off first-which would probably be the case -- and so lose out, the collapsing Goliath would squash him flat beneath his falling bulk."​
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