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June 25, 2015

Opinion: On Inequality, Follow Henry Ford, Not Ford Foundation

A Wall Street Journal opinion writer chides the Ford Foundation for its decision to focus its $500 million in annual grant making on fighting inequality, arguing that its namesake corporation's production innovations have done more than philanthropy to benefit society.

Andy Kessler, an author and former hedge-fund manager, notes that the foundation's assets derived from the Ford Motor Company's success, notably Henry Ford's introduction of scalable assembly lines that produced the affordable Model T. Access to cheap cars "made millions of businesses and workers more productive and created that 'public welfare' that the Ford Foundation struggles to achieve," he says.

"In other words, the Ford Motor company increased living standards, and as a result its owner became fabulously wealthy. This may have increased the perception of inequality, yet everyone was better off," Mr. Kessler writes. He concludes that "the most productive thing someone can do with his money — the only thing that will increase living standards — is invest."

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article on reactions in the nonprofit world to the Ford Foundation's focus on inequality.