The biggest US carmaker may never live down that famous quote from a former top executive: "...what's good for General Motors is good for the country." But the corporate giant may at least be giving those words a more positive tone.
What we have in mind is GM's decision last month to fund 35 percent of filmmaker Ken Burns's projects for a decade, starting in 2002. Mr. Burns has already given us "The Civil War," "Baseball," "Thomas Jefferson," and other sterling examples of documentary filmmaking. His work has helped reawaken Americans' interest in their history.
The next project to emerge from the filmmaker's rural, Walpole, N.H., cutting room will focus on a crucial, long-underplayed chapter in that history - the struggle to secure civil and political rights for women. "Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony" will air on PBS this November.
GM, to its lasting credit, has been a major underwriter of all these projects. Its new, longer-term commitment means Burns won't have to spend quite as much time raising money for his films, which cost $1 million to $3 million apiece to make.
In this instance, anyway, those words of GM's Charles Erwin Wilson back in 1952 ring true. And the often- forgotten first half of his quote no doubt applies too: "What is good for the country is good for General Motors..."
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society