Harry Ferguson was born on this day in 1884. He was born into a world of horse powered agriculture. Two great leaps forward occurred in agricultural practices during WW1 and then again in WW2.
Ferguson began his career in engineering with aircraft. He was the first Irish man to build a plane and the first to fly a plane. He moved from aircraft to tractors just before the outbreak of the Great War. All through the war he was developing ideas for ways to attach a plough to the tractor.
In the early 1920s he presented his ideas on the three point linkage to that other great Irish engineer, Henry Ford. Together they created the Fordson. Ferguson went on to build his own tractors and incorporated his designs into David Browns and Massey Fergusons.
When the second great agricultural leap forward came during WW2 it was powered by tractors designed by Harry Ferguson. His work revolutionised agricultural production and allowed for the radical improvements in output per acre that originated during WW2. By the end of the war Britain was able to feed itself.
After the war these innovations were rolled out to the world and sparked the prosperity of the “Swinging Sixties”.
Harry Ferguson never saw the 1960’s. He died at the beginning of the decade after years of legal battles with Henry Ford II over the illegal use of his patents. The legal battles cost him half his fortune and all his health and was unsuccessful in restricting Fords use of his work.
If Ferguson represents an era of Growth we can see in the poem below that Williams has experienced an era of Death, Murder, Famine and Dictatorship. Born in 1936, on this day, Charles Kenneth Williams lived through those swinging sixties. But he saw the rise of tin pot dictator after dictator pillage country after country in Asia, Africa, South & Central America. Much of it carried out under the cloak of U.S. Foreign Policy.
Today on the news we see thousands of troops sent to the US Mexican Border. Donald Trump is addressing voters for the upcoming mid term elections. He uses the language of the demagogue. He sounds like another tin pot dictator. He says his troops will shoot at any migrants who throw stones. He says that the Democrats want to invite “Caravan after Caravan” of migrants over the border. When Republicans speak about Democrats they describe them as Communists or Socialists. From here in Europe the Democrats come over as far right liberals. We would see them as right wing extremists. It is hilarious to describe a club of multi-millionaire politicians as socialists. It is, frankly, an insult to socialism.
The future of the planet lies in sustainability. Humans must live within our means or we will become extinct. Politicians who, like Donald Trump, deny climate change are doing so because they are trading personal greed against public good. They know the world is full of short term thinking greedy people.
The failure of democratic American style politics to plan beyond the next election is the major barrier to long term sustainable planning. When Harry Ferguson was designing his first tractors during WW1 American saw itself, and was, the saviour of the Western World. Roll the clock forward 100 years and today, 2018 the USA is the worlds greatest problem.
Zebra; by Charles Kenneth Williams
Kids once carried tin soldiers in their pockets as charms
against being afraid, but how trust soldiers these days
not to load up, aim, blast the pants off your legs?
I have a key-chain zebra I bought at the Thanksgiving fair.
How do I know she won’t kick, or bite at my crotch?
Because she’s been murdered, machine-gunned: she’s dead.
Also, she’s a she: even so crudely carved, you can tell
by the sway of her belly a foal’s inside her.
Even murdered mothers don’t hurt people, do they?
And how know she’s murdered? Isn’t everything murdered?
Some dictator’s thugs, some rebels, some poachers;
some drought, world-drought, world-rot, pollution, extinction.
Everything’s murdered, but still, not good, a dead thing
in with your ID and change. I fling her away, but the death
of her clings, the death of her death, her murder, her slaughter.
The best part of Thanksgiving Day, though—the parade!
Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, Kermit the Frog, enormous as clouds!
And the marching bands, majorettes, anthems and drums!
When the great bass stomped its galloping boom out
to the crowd, my heart swelled with valor and pride.
I remembered when we saluted, when we took off our hat.