Friday, January 6, 2012

Wells Fargo Envy

Yesterday a coyote took another chicken. I watched the big black coyote that we call "Bruno" run off with the poor deceased chicken dangling in its mouth.

The coyotes seem to show up around 10 am. We seem to lose the chickens between 10 am and 1 pm. Today I looked out the window at 10 am and saw a different coyote stalking "Flopsy". I ran outside, yelling and screaming like a crazed psychiatric nurse, and scared him away. This coyote was more traditional in coloring and appearance. But he is still huge. Joni thinks that "Bruno" is a coyote/dog cross. A Dogote.

Another sunny warm day here in the Foothills. I continue in my sloth like behavior, using the excuse that I'm trying to kick this cold. Which means I've finished Book Number 2 for the year: Stagecoach: Wells Fargo and the American West by Philip Fradkin.

Fradkin wrote a book on California (The Seven States of California) that I really liked, and, as is my custom, when I run across a writer I enjoy, I tend to read my way through most of their catalogue.

Stagecoach: Wells Fargo and the American West is a look at the 150 year history of Wells Fargo (the bank and the once upon a time shipper and transportation provider). This book came out eight years before the bank bailouts of 2008. Wells Fargo was one of the banks that took money in 2008/2009. They received, at least, 25 billion dollars.

Fradkin is quite friendly towards the company in this book. In fact, it reads much like Wells Fargo commissioned the thing. Yes, there is some interesting history here; especially the parts about what it was like to travel the US by stagecoach in the 1860's. And yes, Wells Fargo did transform nutrition in the United States by figuring out how to ship fruits and vegetables in a refrigerated rail car (they used ice) thus improving the lives of millions of Americans.

But I was surprised at just how fawning Fradkin could be towards this company. I expected to read something that was a bit more critical, a bit more daring, a bit more biting. But Fradkin seems to be in love with Wells Fargo. It is almost as shocking as when Chris Hitchens fell in love with George W. Bush. You don't expect this sort of ass kissing of power from decent writers.

As such, this book could very easily grace the bookshelf in the CEO's office of Wells Fargo. I expected something more from Fradkin. Oh well, I'll give him another chance to redeem himself. Maybe Fradkin needed some quick cash and writing a laudatory history of a bank filled the coffers in time for Christmas. We all have our price.

And so I will forgive Fradkin and give him another chance.

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