Melvyn Urofsky suggested in a New York Times op-ed yesterday that Obama and his new administration can learn a few things from Louis Brandeis’s 1914 book, Other People’s Money, and How the Bankers Use It. Brandeis wrote the book after revelations of a Congressional investigation into the predatory practices of J. P. Morgan and other big bankers. The book influenced Woodrow Wilson and then later became important to New Deal reforms under Franklin Roosevelt.
You can read Brandeis’s book here with our new beta book reader. But you can do even more: you can download it, remix it, search it, rehost it on your own site, print it, distribute it non-commercially, and so on. It’s in the public domain — it’s yours!
Urofsky summarizes Brandeis conclusion about bank regulation:
“For Brandeis, regulation was not supposed to be a restraint on innovation or the entrepreneurial spirit, but rather a check on unbridled greed. He believed in a free market, but one in which the government enforced rules of fair competition so that the most talented could succeed. Clear rules would help ensure that business was conducted fairly and openly.
“[Today] some of the trouble-making bankers will, perhaps, be temporarily chastened. But before we know it, they will once again be complaining about regulation’s ‘interference’ with the market. Don’t listen to them. Good regulation will keep us from losing sight of the importance of those same principles that Brandeis emphasized so many years ago — honesty, openness and a fair playing field.”