The great business interests will, I hope, so comport themselves that foreign capital will consider it a desirable thing to hold shares in American companies. It is for Americans to see that foreign investors are well and honestly treated, so that they will never regret purchases of our securities.
I may speak thus frankly, because I am an investor in many American enterprises, but a controller of none (with one exception, and that a company which has not been much of a dividend payer), and I, like all the rest, am dependent upon the honest and capable administration of the industries. I firmly and sincerely believe that they will be so managed.
You hear a good many people of pessimistic disposition say much about greed in American life. One would think to hear them talk that we were a race of misers in this country. To lay too much stress upon the reports of greed in the newspapers would be folly, since their function is to report the unusual and even the abnormal. When a man goes properly about his daily affairs, the public prints say nothing; it is only when something extraordinary happens to him that he is discussed. But because he is thus brought into prominence occasionally, you surely would not say that these occasions represented his normal life. It is by no means for money alone that these active-minded men labour—they are engaged in a fascinating occupation. The zest of the work is maintained by something better than the mere accumulation of money, and, as I think I have said elsewhere, the standards of business are high and are getting better all the time.
I confess I have no sympathy with the idea so often advanced that our basis of all judgments in this country is founded on money. If this were true, we should be a nation of money hoarders instead of spenders. Nor do I admit that we are so small-minded a people as to be jealous of the success of others. It is the other way about: we are the most extraordinarily ambitious, and the success of one man in any walk of life spurs the others on. It does not sour them, and it is a libel even to suggest so great a meanness of spirit.
In reading the newspapers, where so much is taken for granted in considering things on a money standard, I think we need some of the sense of humour possessed by an Irish neighbour of mine, who built what we regarded as an extremely ugly house, which stood out in bright colours as we looked from our windows. My taste in architecture differed so widely from that affected by my Irish friend, that we planted out the view of his house by moving some large trees to the end of our property. Another neighbour who watched this work going on asked Mr. Foley why Mr. Rockefeller moved all these big trees and cut off the view between the houses. Foley, with the quick wit of his country, responded instantly: “It’s invy, they can’t stand looking at the ividence of me prosperity.”