In recollecting the nearly-departed 20th Century, NBC’s Today
show last month featured "a series of profiles, celebrating figures
we believe made a special contribution during the course of the
century," according to anchor Katie Couric’s introduction on
December 3. Joining the likes of polio-buster Dr. Jonas Salk, tennis
superstar Arthur Ashe and entertainment legend Julie Andrews were a
couple of capitalists: Henry Ford and Fred Smith.
Ford, of course, invented the Model-T, the world’s first
mass-produced automobile. According to Matt Lauer, who profiled Ford
on December 24, the automotive pioneer "was the man who got America
moving. He made the automobile practical and affordable, and in so
doing created an industrial and social revolution, changing the way
we live and work."
In 1973, Fred Smith started Federal Express, the first overnight
delivery service. By accelerating the delivery of critical goods --
everything from key documents to computer parts -- Smith
"transformed the way business is done around the world," said Couric
in her December 16 segment.
Sometimes it seems the networks only care about business leaders
who pollute the environment, harass their secretaries or are under
investigation by the Justice Department. Kudos to NBC for showing
two examples of how businessmen improved our standard of living
during the 20th Century.