A quick picture of the American way (Sep, 1958)

Boy, time has a funny way of changing how we perceive things. Nowadays this could be an ad for Greenpeace or the Sierra Club. You look at it and just cringe. Well, I do. I’m sure many members of the current administration would look at this ad with a teary eye for the lost days when the U.S. was the utterly dominant industrial power in the world and the rest of the countries on earth either provided customers or raw materials.

A quick picture of the American way—
with only 5.5% of the world’s land area the U. S. is served by 46.3% of the world’s trucks
INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER

ATA Foundation Inc.

American Trucking Industry

5 comments
  1. Rick Auricchio says: July 7, 20072:39 pm

    I suppose after forty years the US percentage of worldwide trucks has changed.

    It appears, however, that they’re showing 46% of the total truck to show the US portion. The shape of the truck makes it very difficult to see 46% vs 100%. Sorta the world’s worst pie chart.

  2. Blurgle says: July 7, 200711:54 pm

    The thing is, those lost days never really existed except in the collective mindset of Americans, who assume they’ve always been the most important country on Earth. At least once a month I encounter some guy on the Internet who is convinced beyond any reasoning that everyone on Earth is just panting to become an American, and America is the only country with “freedom”. They’re shocked (and generally disbelieving) when I tell them that nobody I know wants to be American, and in fact many of the immigrants I’ve met deliberately chose not to immigrate to the US for specific reasons. They always assume I’m being “bigoted” or “anti-American”.

    The US having 46% of all trucks is an interesting piece of trivia, but given that most countries are smaller in area and don’t need as many trucks per capita (and are also more likely to use rail and water to transport cargo) it doesn’t say much about economic might as much as it does about the physical size of the country and the distances between cities. You need more trucks to haul goods between Kansas City and Mobile than you do between Hamburg and Kiel, simply because you can make 12 round trips in one day between Hamburg and Kiel, but less than one round trip per day between Kansas City and Mobile.

  3. Srewolf says: July 8, 20078:54 am

    Curious that Alaska is not included as part of the US. Statehood was approved by congress in June 1958, and became official in Jan 1959.

  4. Srewolf says: July 8, 20079:04 am

    Oh, by the way, Hawaii’s statehood was then also, but they could make the claim that those other bits of the US aren’t large enough to show on a map of this scale. And then there are the territories, which is clearly getting too picky for the purpose of this ad.

    I remember the statehood of Alaska and Hawaii being a big deal at the time, and I was just a kid of 7. You’d think the grown-ups who were involved in making this ad would have included them.

    Any idea on what the truck ratio is today?

  5. bilbo says: December 14, 20102:15 am

    I don’t see any “U.S. domination” factor at all in this ad. What I see in the ad is the fact that the U.S. had the most extensive highway system in the world. And contrary to the comments made by Blurgle, he omits a lot of fine details and tends to exaggerate. I don’t think anyone believes that everyone in the world wants to be an American, but do you know of any other country in history that has received so many immigrants that actually DID want to be Americans? Do you know of any other country where so many millions of people wanted to emigrate? And let’s not forget that International Harvester has supplied equipment to countries all over the world for a very long time and contributed greatly to their own prosperity. And out of the millions of immigrants that have adopted America as their home, a certain percentage were rejected. I don’t know the numbers, but it could have been in the millions. Don’t you think those that were rejected might have tended to have bad views of America and passed it on to their future generations (like Blurgle)?

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