a voice from the rustbelt, “wild greed”:
As a senator from Missouri in 1937 Harry Truman railed against the Wall Street, and ‘gentleman’ lawyer greed that was behind the re-organisation of the railroads. The following excerpt was from his second speech on the topic. In the first speech, in June, he contrasted the $3,000 that Jesse James stole from the Rock Island Line to the $70,000,000 financial artists got away with.
“…We worship money instead of honor. A billionaire, in our estimation is much greater in these days in the eyes of the people than the public servant who works for public interest. It makes no difference if the billionaire rode to wealth on the sweat of little children and the blood of underpaid labor. No one ever considered Carnegie libraries steeped in the blood of Homestead steelworkers, but they are. We do not remember that the Rockefeller Foundation is founded on the dead miners of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company and a dozen other similar performances. We worship Mammon; and until we go back to ancient fundamentals and return to the Giver of the Tables of Law and His teachings, these conditions are going to remain with us.
It is a pity that Wall Street, with it’s ability to control all the wealth of the nation and to hire the best law brains in the country, has not produced some statesmen, some men who could see the dangers of bigness and of the concentration of the control of wealth. Instead of working to meet the situation, they are still employing the best law brains to serve greed and self interest. People can only stand so much and one of these days there will be a settlement….”
—Senator Harry Truman, December 20, 1937
Congressional Record, seventy-fifth Congress, second session, volume 82, part 2, December 20, 1937. pp. 2482-95.