Nothing ever changes

Especially in America. I've just finished reading a mostly very interesting book called Hear That Lonesome Whistle Blow by Dee Brown. It's about the development of the American railways from the 1850s to the 1900s. Uncanny resemblance to what's been going on recently in the financial world. Some very sly buggers who set up railway companies and then got the public, via government bungs, to finance their operations ( several times over), smoothed through by kickbacks through shell companies set up to channel all the public cash into private pockets. Senior congressmen and even presidents in on the act.

Here's a quote about a (failed) Congressional inquiry into the holding company Credit Mobilier of America, which was a nice little money-siphoning club set up by Durant of Union Pacific:

After leaving the vice presidency in March, he (Colfax) was in such demand as a lecturer....that he travelled around the country earning more money from gullible listeners than he ever could have gained from government graft.
(James Garfield). His Ohio constituents returned him to Congress three more times, and then the people of America elected him as president, which might be an indication that Americans would sooner vote a rogue into its highest office than an honest man. The others continued to draw dividends from their Credit Mobilier stock, enjoyed frequent showers of money that fell on them from other railroad stock manipulators, and gave away America.

There are many more comparisons to be drawn with the Fannie Mays and Freddie Macs, Lehman Bros and others of the present day, too many and too complicated to condense here. What's most interesting is the book was written in 1977. I recommend it. Quite an eye-opener on the modus operandi of very dodgy people.

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