Robbery, 1920’s Version

VICTIM
by Edgar Guest

“Hands up!” the stranger shouted, with a terrifying curse.
“Come on, be quick about it!” Then he calmly took my purse.
I saw his gleaming pistol, and ‘twas folly to complain;
I kept reaching for the ceiling as he took my watch and chain.
But I thought as he was leaving: Well, I know the worst right now.
Though I can’t approve his methods–they’re not doubtful anyhow.

I’ll know how much is missing just the moment he is gone.
There will be no disappointment and no heartache later on.
He didn’t cite me figures on the fortunes men have made,
or say for every dollar ten would some day be repaid.
Oh, I’ve suffered many losses!  Though unarmed the others came,
and with gentler, suaver manner, the result was just the same.

As he walked away and carried off my money in his coat
it pleased me to remember that I didn’t sign a note.
And it pleased me to remember once the man had gone away
I was done with the transaction – there’d be nothing more to pay.
And I made this observation when I’d rallied from the shock:
“Well, some rob me with a pistol –and some sell me worthless stock.”

From The Friendly Way
by Edgar A Guest
© 1931 by The Reilly & Lee Co.

Additional Thoughts:

If a person takes the time to study just how things went in the 20s and what economic practices led up to the 1929 Wall Street Crash, then compare it with what happened in the 1990s , you discover that people don’t learn many lessons from history. ☹

In the 20s the stock market was so strong the banks started making collateral-free loans to people buying stocks, which pushed stock prices up and up, which led more people to get into buying and taking bigger risks.  Con men got in on this, selling stocks in companies that had little hopes of return.  Profits were easy until someone got nervous…

In the 1990s banks were encouraged to make more money available to home buyers, so they made sub-prime loans, which made for smaller monthly payments during the first few years.  This practice led to a strong real estate market.  Loans officers competed to write the most mortgages.  Until the real interest rate came due…

One Canadian bank, hearing about how easy it was to get a mortgage in the US, had someone phone and check it out.  Posing as home buyer, using an alias and an address that didn’t exist, he applied and was approved for a $200,000 mortgage in ten minutes.  No home appraisal, no credit check.

In the States if a person can’t make his mortgage payments he can walk into the bank, hand over the keys, and be free of further obligation.  Here in Canada we can give back the keys, but we’re still legally responsible for the balance of the mortgage.  If the bank forecloses and sells a $200,000 home for half that, the mortgage holder is obligated to pay the remainder.  This gives people serious second thoughts about walking away.

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