Okie Humorist Will Rogers lambasts the culture of greed on Wall Street in 1922. This speech was most likely his address to the annual convention of the American Bankers Association.
Warning: this tape is really, really old, and the sound quality is poor. We recommend you follow along with the transcript as you listen. It also contains language that some listeners may find offensive.
[Loan sharks and interest hounds,
I have addressed every form of organized graft in the United States, excepting Congress, so it’s naturally a pleasure for me to appear before the biggest. You are without a doubt the most disgustingly rich audience I ever talked to, with the possible exception of the bootleggers’ union, Local No. 1, combined with the enforcement officers.
Now, I understand that you hold this convention every year to announce what the annual gyp will be. I have often wondered where the depositors hold their convention. I had an account in the bank once, and the banker, he asked me to withdraw it. He said I had used up more red ink than the account was worth.
I see where your convention was opened by a prayer, you had to send outside your ranks to get somebody that knew how to pray. You should have had one creditor there; he’d have shown you how to pray.I noticed in the prayer the clergyman announced to the Almighty that the bankers were here. Well, it wasn’t exactly an announcement. It was more in the nature of a warning. He didn’t tell the devil, as he figured he knew where you all were all the time anyhow.
I see by your speeches that you’re very optimistic of the business conditions of the coming year. Boy, I don’t blame you. If I had your dough, I’d be optimistic too.
I’ve met most of you as I come out of the stage door of the Follies every night. I want to tell you, any of you that are capitalized at under a million dollars needn’t hang around there! Our girls may not know their Latin and Greek, but they certainly know their Dun and Bradstreet.
You have a wonderful organization. I understand you have 10,000 here, and what you have in federal prisons brings your membership up to around 30,000.
So goodbye, paupers. You’re the finest bunch of shylocks that ever foreclosed a mortgage on a widow’s home.]