Book Review: Cotton Candy Land: A Review of Nick Brady’s “A Way of Going”

By Catherine Austin Fitts

I have been reading the autobiographies of political and business leaders reaching the apex of their careers. I have downloaded more to read but am finding it slow going. Occasionally I will review them on the blog. For a recent example, see Dick Cheney’s “Fluffernutter”.

Sometimes I read them as their descriptions of the “official story” gives me a nugget that unlocks profoundly important insights about the details of our recent financial coup d’etat and the direction that reinvestment is intended to go. Sometimes I read them to see what they leave out – and what it says about who and what they fear and what that implies about the various investment syndicates.

I have had a three month hiatus recovering from my last legacy building autobiography from a former
client, Dick Ravitch, So Much to Do. Suffice it to say he did not include my favorite quote said to me over a steak dinner at the Jockey Club in Washington in 1997 conveying to me his perspective as a real estate developer of affordable housing funded by taxpayer subsidies, “As long as I get government subsidies, what do I care if people have educations or jobs.”

So this weekend, I picked up my next autobio: Nick Brady’s “A Way of Going.” This one was a significant improvement. It was privately issued – written to be distributed to family and friends only. There is no Library of Congress number. But then family and friends have a way of selling these things into Amazon. If it is a private edition, they get a pretty penny.

Nick Brady is a former Chairman of the Board of Dillon, Read & Co. Inc (1970–1988), served as the 68th Secretary of the Treasury from September 15,1999 under Regan and then through the first Bush Administration. He also served as a Republican Senator from New Jersey in 1982 to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Harrison Williams and served as the Chairman of Purolator, Inc from 1971-87. He has served on the boards of numerous companies, including the Franklin Templeton Investment Funds, Hess Corporation, Weatherford International  NCR Corporation, the MITRE Corporation, and H.J. Heinz Company.

I read an elegant description of a remarkable life in which gentlemen were strategic in their thinking, kept their deals and, magically, the good guys made millions and ran the country by picking the right allies at Yale, on Wall Street, in the oil patch, and because times were good. and they were lucky.

Truly this is a wonderful book to give your grandchildren. Except for one thing. Our grandchildren are going to need to navigate the world as it is and as it is becoming. The covert side of the story (and profits) so elegantly omitted was deep and dangerous.  How can the next generations build and preserve wealth if they are brought up to believe in “Cotton Candy Land?”

We all tend to think of ourselves as fundamentally good. It is our blind side. If it is good for me, it must be good, because I’m good, right? So an autobiography is the “Story of I Am Good.” Perhaps that is why we keep looking for a way to prove that what is happening that is harmful to us is because “They are bad.”

However, power comes by seeing the threads of all that is happening weave through our own lives and connect to our own actions. That connection is our point of power, where we can take action that shifts the course of history, where we have something to say about how history goes.

Most of us fail to mention or think about the fact that most of our ancestors got the land we live on by genociding the people who were there first. Or that our prosperity and capital have been amassed with the help of generations of warfare, slavery and violent interventions in other people’s lives and fortunes globally. While I hear many people complain about the wrongs done to them by others, I rarely hear anyone calculate the restitution they should be making from their capital to those who lost it through criminal means. There is, of course, the shifting of a portion of capital to do good works which more often are tax sheltered ways of keeping the do gooders busy that affirm the establishment and make sure it stays in control.

For many years I believed that philanthropy was the criminals way of coming back around and requiring the children of the people they had just destroyed to affirm their story of “I am good” in exchange for a few places in their machine. It was not until I was much older that I discovered that America is full of hard working people who earned their money honestly and are remarkably generous with it – indeed their hard work and generosity has kept much going in the midst of the greater game of “I Am Good.”

If old line WASPS want to stay on top through the generations, we are going to need to rethink our approach to education. If we don’t, the sons and daughters of Russian mafiya, Chinese triads, Japanese yakuza and Ukraine oligarchs will be running things, snatching the fortunes of our descendants as they burn through the family capital trying to do deals in Cotton Candy Land where they naively believe grandfather made his millions and lived happily ever after.

Related Reading:

Jamie Johnson – Engaging America in a Real Conversation

Related Listening:

Elvis Presley: Cotton Candy Land