The recent news that Wells Fargo executives tried to defend their expensive and wholly inappropriate employee junket to Las Vegas only months after accepting $25 billion in federal taxpayer bailouts set off a storm from City Hall to the White House.
Once public pressure “persuaded” Wells Fargo to cancel the trip, Mayor Oscar Goodman, the greatest casino marketing mouthpiece in the history of the community, roared his disapproval with an apparently misunderstood remark from President Obama. The president audaciously suggested that companies sucking billions from the public breast shouldn’t turn around and chase the good fortune with whiskey and wild times in Las Vegas on the taxpayer dime.
But that minor dustup is not the subject of today’s Twain moment. I have laughed to myself for days thinking that anyone – even the amazing mayor – would essentially put himself in the position of defending a godless banking giant in the depth of this recession brought on in no small part by the rapacity of those same behemoths.
I was reminded of something Twain wrote in Pudd’nhead Wilson about dogs and men, which certainly applies to canines and bankers.
“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you,” Wilson remarks. “This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
The next time you’re late on a mortgage payment or two, or are looking for a few thousand to keep your small business from circling the drain, remember that the nation’s banks not only have received billions, but are hording billions while thousands of homeowners and business owners crash. You will feel the bite.
I’ll take a dog any day.