Congress, Bankers and Wall Street, Part 2
COLUMBUS: Congress and Wall Street are still arguing over $700,000,000,000. They can’t agree on what to call it. Is it a loan, or a purchase, or an insurance policy? To a number of taxpayers it looks like a ripoff.
All week I’ve been watching those birds as they hustle hither and yon, often in the hallway outside the House chamber. Once in a while on the TV news shows I see in the background the statue of a man standing there with his hand in his pocket (his own pocket) looking down on them with a knowing grin. Well, I think this whole situation could come to quick resolution if a couple of pages of quotes of this prominent Oklahoman were Scotch taped to the base of that statue, and everyone who walked past was persuaded to stop and read ’em. Not just read, but subscribe to ’em. (See below, and last week)
In other news, October 1 is the one hundredth birthday of the Model T Ford. By the 1920s, my friend Henry Ford accounted for half of all the cars on our roads and in our ditches, every one a Model T, and every one of them black. Speaking as one of many humorists of that era, no other single thing contributed as much to a comedian’s career as did the Model T, with the possible exception of bankers, Wall Streeters and lawyers.
Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“It looks like the financial giants of the world have bungled as much as the diplomats and politicians. This would be a great time in the world for some man to come along that knew something.” DT #1611, Sept. 21, 1931
“Borrowing money on what’s called ‘easy terms,’ is a one-way ticket to the Poor House. If you think it ain’t a Sucker Game, why is your Banker the richest man in your Town? Why is your Bank the biggest and finest building in your Town? Instead of passing Bills to make borrowing easy, if Congress had passed a Bill that no Person could borrow a cent of Money from any other person, they would have gone down in History as committing the greatest bit of Legislation in the World.” WA #14, March 18, 1923
“Why don’t somebody print the truth about our present economic situation? We spent six years of wild buying on credit — everything under the sun, whether we needed it or not — and now we are having to pay for ’em, and we are howling like a pet coon.
This would be a great world to dance in if we didn’t have to pay the fiddler.” DT #1224, June 27, 1930
“Prosperity this Winter is going to be enjoyed by everybody that is fortunate enough to get into the poor farm.” DT #1031, Nov. 14, 1929
(On spending money) “We have been just going like a house afire, and we couldent see any reason why we shouldent keep right on burning. Our tastes were acquired on credit, and we wanted to keep on enjoying ’em on credit.
It wasent what we needed then that was hurting us, it was what we was paying for that we had already used up. The country was just buying gasoline for a leaky tank. Everything was going into a gopher hole and you couldent see where you was going to get any of it back.
You see in the old days there was mighty few things bought on credit. Your taste had to be in harmony with your income, for it had never been any other way. I think buying autos on credit has driven more folks to (rob banks) as a regular means of livelihood than any other contributing cause… I don’t reckon there has ever been a time in American homes when there was as much junk in ’em as there is today. Even our own old shack has got more junk in it that has never been used, or looked at than a storage place. Most everybody has got more than they used to have, but they havent got as much as they thought they ought to have. So it’s all a disappointment more than a catastrophe. If we could just call back the last two or three years and do our buying a little more carefully why we would be O.K.” WA #419, January 4, 1931
“Politics are receiving a lot of attention because we have nothing else to interest us. No nation in the history of the world was ever sitting as pretty. If we want anything, all we have to do is go and buy it on credit. So that leaves us without any economic problem whatever, except perhaps some day to have to pay for them. But we are certainly not thinking about that this early.” DT #660, Sept. 6, 1928
“See where Congress passed a two Billion dollar bill to relieve bankers’ mistakes. You can always count on us helping those who have lost part of their fortune, but our whole history records nary a case where the loan was for the man who had absolutely nothing.” DT #1715, Jan. 22, 1932