If you haven’t read this piece already, then go read it now & come back to this post:
Now, in addition to being a co-founder of the program that’s “saved millions”, old Bill was something of a wheeler dealer in the world of high finance. Of course, that was before John Barleycorn laid him low, Dr. Silkworth pumped him full of narcotics, tranquilizers, & hallucenogenic drugs & the god of the preachers stepped in to save his sorry, boozehound ass. But before ‘hitting bottom’, old Bill took a rocket into the fourth dimension of the fast buck & Prohibition-Era debauchery. Before ‘hitting bottom’, Bill spent a good chunk of his professional life finagling his way to ‘the top’.
Rich English (author of the article linked to above) puts it best:
“It wasn’t long before the ambitious and talented Wilson was a force to be reckoned with on the Wall Street of the rollicking 1920s. He would learn all he could about the inner workings of a publicly-traded company then make recommendations to buyers based on his unique understanding. Today Wilson would be considered a common, albeit gifted, stock analyst, but back then he was one of the few people doing that sort of thing. Savvy investors soon flocked to Wilson and it didn’t take long before he realized he could use his influence and advice to artificially inflate the price of a company’s stock, including those in which he had a financial stake. These days that sort of behavior is a crime called insider trading, but in the ‘20s it was called playing the game and no one cared that much. Wilson certainly didn’t. He raked in the cash with both hands.”
That’s right kids, the man who made ‘rigorous honesty’ the catchphrase of gawd-conscious drunks the world over was a bamboozler of no small weight. Jeez, the very founding of AA (e.g., Honor Dealers, Works Publishing, The 100 Men Corporation, the shaking down of Hank Parkhurst while he was drunk & desperate, etc. — read the whole torrid tale at www.orange-papers.org and www.orange-papers.org) is shrouded in enough chicanery & double-dealing as to make Black-Beard The Pirate green with envy.
Now, the economic climate being what it is these days (a little TOO reminiscent of the Great Depression Era if you’re asking me — see ftg’s fine post: donewithaa.wordpress.com for probably the most knuckleheaded take on both the 12 steps AND our current economic crisis), I can’t help but think: What would Bill Wilson have done if he were involved in the financial industry over the past decade or so?
H[ocus] P[ocus] help me, I can’t but suspect our hero would have dug in with both hands. Yup, old Bill would have been drinking designer vodka out of the bellybuttons of $5,000 a night prostitutes & been at his desk the next morning carving out yet another derivative formula for more high-risk 401k investors to crap their pants over. Mr. ‘Conscious Contact’ would have been eating at Le Cirque, drinking $26 a shot single-malt-scotches, smoking Cohibas, & drooling all over some European fashion model’s anorexic shoulders at the W Hotel’s bar before throwing back a Bloody Mary just prior to the opening bell & amortizing yet a thousand more free-falling lines of credit to sell to the Chinese.
Of course, Bill would happily offer to apologize for all this mischief … some many years later. Unless, of course, to do so would hurt him or others.
Either way, guess who’d get stuck with the tab for all those shenanigans? Not the anonymous one — he’d be too busy channeling the voices of 13th century Augustinian monks or some such nonsense. And he’d be helping a fellow sick & suffering alcoholic.
While getting an eyeful of his sister’s legs.